Grant Visas to Create Jobs

Grant Visas to Create Jobs

Entrepreneurs like this New York City business owner drive job creation. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/franklinabreu/5138561927/sizes/m/in/photostream/"> Franklin Abreu (flickr)</a>
Entrepreneurs like this New York City business owner drive job creation. Photo: Franklin Abreu (flickr)

Would easing visa requirements for immigrant entrepreneurs give the U.S. economy a much-needed boost?

A recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece suggests it might. Immigrants are almost 30 percent more likely to start a business than non-immigrants, explains the article, and new businesses account for the most jobs added to the economy every year.

“For years, academics have noted the connection between immigration, entrepreneurship, and job creation,” explains a recent Slate article. The article cites a recent report by the National Foundation for American Policy that estimates 10,000 entrepreneur visas could create 100,000 jobs.

Right now the requirements for getting an investor visa make it nearly impossible for most immigrants who want to start a business, argues the Wall Street Journal article.

The U.S. 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 the U.S. 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—including spouses and children—and most of them went to immigrant investors looking to expand existing U.S. ventures, not create new businesses.

Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar have introduced legislation that proposes issuing a conditional green card for anyone who receives at least $250,000 from a U.S. venture capitalist, and extending permanent residence if the business does well. But The Wall Street Journal article suggests that these changes would still falls short, given that the average start-up cost to businesses are much lower than this plan outlines.

"The U.S. 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," said Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy, tells the Wall Street Journal article. "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."

Let's hope politicians heed this advice — the economy could certainly use the jobs.

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