Comprehensive immigration reform may be bogged down in election year politics, but the issue of high skilled immigration is making some headway in Congress. In late November, the House of Representatives passed a bill (by an overwhelming margin of 389-15) sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) entitled the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (HR 3012). The legislation would eliminate the per country numerical limitation for employment-based Visas and increase the per country numerical limitation for family-based immigrants from 7% to 15% of the total number of family-sponsored visas. The family-based Visa provision is important because often an entrepreneur is able to get a Visa, but it is difficult for his or her family to come to the U.S., so this measure would loosen the ability for that family to relocate together. The measure is awaiting action in the Senate.
In other immigration news, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Charlie Bass (R-NH) recently introduced legislation that would help foreign born students with STEM degrees from U.S. universities to remain here to start a business. Their bill, the INVEST Act (HR 3692), would create as new Visa category that would grant permanent residency to an immigrant entrepreneur who starts a new business, creates two new jobs or invests $200,000 after two years; and creates five jobs or invests $500,000 in the business within five years. According to Reps. Schiff and Bass:
“The INVEST Act will allow highly skilled entrepreneurs the opportunity to build the next great company and to do it in America. Our universities are educating the next generation of Steve Jobs – we want to make sure they build the next Apple in the United States and not overseas.”Lastly, a new report released by the National Foundation for American Policy (NAFP) today finds that immigrant founders continue to play a key role in spurring venture-backed breakthrough companies. Stuart Anderson of the NAFP, and the author of NVCA’s 2006 report, American Made, makes the strong case for legal immigration reform in this new report as it finds that immigrants are serving as C-level and technical product development positions at the majority of America’s most promising venture-backed companies. This new report confirms the findings that NVCA made five years ago and perhaps makes it even more imperative that the US put out the “Welcome” mat for these entrepreneurs who help create jobs and drive our economy.
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