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Enact an Entrepreneur’s Visa

November 27, 2011

A new opinion piece by Amy Wilkinson, a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, joins a number of other voices calling on Congress to enact an entrepreneur’s visa.

Let’s start by awarding an “entrepreneurs’ visa.” Allowing bright individuals to pursue their dreams in our country won’t steal away jobs but rather create opportunity for U.S. citizens.

Initially, applicants would be screened for temporary visas based on either outside capital they have raised or revenues generated from recorded U.S. sales. Green cards would be granted once these entrepreneurs had hired a minimum number of U.S. employees.

The revised Kerry-Lugar Startup Visa Act is a great start, though the bill imposes a cap on the number of visas granted. Why limit motivated, foreign-born entrepreneurs from creating companies in the United States?

The piece goes on to call for “stapling” a green card to diplomas of foreign-born STEM students. This proposal, as mentioned previously, is contained within H.R. 3146, currently under consideration by three House committees.

Underlying the call for employment-based visa reform, however, is a more significant point. It’s this:  the global pool of talent is limited and multinational.

This point has been made explicitly, and implicitly in the arguments by academics and researchers who have called for changes in immigration policy. It remains to be seen whether or not most Americans recognize that entrepreneurs are now presented with a variety of locations around the globe in which to base their ventures, and America competes with these other nations to encourage entrepreneurs to locate in this country.

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