NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Visa for Job Creators

October 14, 2010

Start-ups are responsible for most net new jobs in the United States, and immigrants are almost 30 percent more likely than nonimmigrants to start a business, but the immigration debate has devolved into a shouting match over allegations of "amnesty" and anti-Hispanic bias.  Cooler heads need to keep in mind the economic benefits of attracting human capital to America, says the Wall Street Journal.

The United States created an immigrant investor visa category (EB-5) in 1990, but steep minimum capital requirements put it out of reach for most potential recipients.

  • The average start-up company in America begins with about $31,000.
  • Yet to become eligible for an EB-5 visa, an individual must invest at least $500,000.
  • It's no wonder that fewer than 3,700 people received EB-5 visas last year, and most of them went to immigrant investors looking to expand existing U.S. ventures, not create new businesses.

Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Richard Lugar of Indiana have introduced legislation that would award a conditional green card to immigrant entrepreneurs who receive at least $250,000 from a U.S. venture capitalist.

  • The immigrant would receive permanent residence status if the enterprise employed at least five workers or reached $1 million in revenue within a year.
  • This would improve the status quo, but the capital requirements would still remain needlessly high.
  • In retail and manufacturing, for example, start-up costs average $98,000 and $175,000, respectively.

Mr. Anderson, a former Immigration and Naturalization Service official, says the United States would do better to discard capital requirements and welcome any foreign national who can present a business plan that passes muster with the Small Business Administration.  As with the EB-5 visa, the individual would receive a green card only if the business created a certain number of jobs for U.S. workers within a set period of time.

Lowering U.S. barriers for foreign-born entrepreneurs can only help the economy, says the Journal.

Source: "A Visa for Job Creators," Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2010.

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