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A Renewed Call to Pass the Kerry-Lugar-Udall Startup Visa Act of 2011

November 3, 2011

Yesterday, the House Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing entitled Creating and Growing New Businesses:  Fostering U.S. Innovation. One of the witnesses was Brink Lindsey, a Senior Scholar in Research and Policy at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

After explaining the importance of job creation by new businesses, Mr. Lindsey noted that new business creation in the U.S. is in a “deep slump” as a result of structural policies. In his testimony, he argued that “removing barriers to entrepreneurship becomes increasingly important to maintaining economic dynamism and prosperity.”

The first policy reform he outlines, taken from the Kauffman Foundation’s recommendations in The Startup Act, is an entrepreneur visa as outlined in the Kerry-Lugar-Udall Startup Visa Act of 2011. Under this proposal

entrants would be screened for temporary visas based on either the outside capital they had attracted or revenues from U.S. sales they already had recorded. Permanent work visas (green cards) would be granted once these entrepreneurs had hired a minimum number of U.S. workers. Although the Kerry-Lugar bill imposes a limit on the number of visas granted, we believe a strong case can be made for a visa without any caps.

When Senators Kerry, Lugar, and Udall introduced their bill in March 2011, entitled S. 565, Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced the companion bill in the House. It is H.R. 1114, and it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. It has not been scheduled for a hearing or markup as of yet.

Mr. Lindsey also recommended granting green cards to foreign students who receive STEM degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This proposal has been suggested by a number of technology leaders and business organizations over the past several years.  Currently, it is embodied in Rep. Raul Labrador’s bill, H.R. 3146 and Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s bill, H.R. 2161.

Another witness testifying before the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation was Ray Rothrock, General Partner of Venrock, a venture capital firm. He also testified in support of immigration reform and the Startup Visa Act.

Over the last decade, it has become increasingly difficult for foreign-born entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers to enter the United States and remain here, despite their enormous contributions to American innovation and economic growth throughout our history. . . . [The Startup Visa Act] would be a breath of fresh air to budding foreign-born entrepreneurs and a great first step in keeping these innovations and the talent which created them in the U. S.




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