Start Us Up Start Us Up logo

Coalition Roundup: March 15, 2021

As the Biden Administration transitions its focus to other policy priorities following the signing of COVID-19 relief package, immigration reform sits atop the list.

The updated America’s New Business Plan expands on our previous recommendation to unleash the job-creating power of immigrant entrepreneurs:

Foreign-born entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs face obstacles different from those of their native-born counterparts, including long delays in becoming a legal permanent resident that postpone new business creation and visa categories that do not allow for entrepreneurship until permanent residence is granted. Many foreign-born individuals enter the United States in a status that fails to guarantee they can remain in the United States on a permanent basis. Without the certainty that one can stay permanently, it is very challenging to formulate a long-term business strategy or attract investment. To remove barriers for foreign-born individuals already in the U.S. in a temporary status, such as an H-1B visa holder or an international student, and for those who would come in the future, the federal government should:

  • Increase the number of employment-based green cards and eliminate the per-country limit for high-skilled immigrants to decrease wait times.
  • Establish a startup visa with a path to permanent residency.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants should not be overlooked as America works to rebuild its economy. Recently, members of the Start Us Up coalition have echoed this sentiment by highlighting opportunities for action.

Roadblocks to US visas will hinder our recovery
Attorney Tahmina Watson of Watson Immigration Law penned an opinion in the Puget Sound Business Journal discussing the status quo for immigration visas and the need for a specific startup visa. She writes that due to recent “anti-immigration messaging and policies,” a considerable number of immigrant entrepreneurs are taking their “talents and skills elsewhere” — such as Canada, which following the implementation of a startup visa, boasts an “incredibly successful startup scene with immigrants creating jobs for Canadians. That could be us, at just the time we need entrepreneurs most.”

Venture Capitalists, Startup Founders Push to Revive Obama-Era Immigration Program
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights efforts from the National Venture Capital Association, Center for American Entrepreneurship, Niskanen Center, SSTI, Economic Innovation Group, Engine, and the Kauffman Foundation to promote the International Entrepreneur Rule — an Obama-era policy that allows some foreign startup founders to remain in the U.S. without a visa. The article discusses calls to better resource the program, including “advertising it and hiring dedicated staff to judge applications.” The NVCA’s Jeff Farrah says that while previous estimates suggested 3,000 founders would apply for the program, fears of rejection brought requests down to a handful in recent years.

Interview: John Lettieri of the Economic Innovation Group
Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith recently shared an opinion piece titled, Why I Changed My Mind About Heartland Worker Visas, in which he discusses a concept to encourage skilled immigration to America’s heartland, a priority of the Economic Innovation Group and a component piloted in President Biden’s proposed immigration plan. Smith also released a podcast in which he interviews EIG John Lettieri to discuss Heartland Visas.

See all stories