February - 2014 - issue > In My Opinion

Want to Create American Jobs? Remove American Barriers to Immigration

Ian E. Scott
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Ian E. Scott
As originally published in Forbes on September 6, 2013

While America is often called the land of opportunity, immigration law often serves as a barrier for many business owners and foreign entrepreneurs. In an editorial in The Washington Post, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: "Why do we kick out the more than 40 per cent of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them? Why do we offer so few H-1B visas for talented specialists that the supply runs out within days of becoming available each year, even though we know each of these jobs will create two or three more American jobs in return?"

Zuckerberg's comments take on added significance as according to The Immigration Law Policy Center, as of 2010, 18 percent of all Fortune 500 companies had at least one founder who was an immigrant. Collectively, these companies generated $1.7 trillion in annual revenue and employed 3.6 million workers worldwide. While much of the debate surrounding immigration reform has centered around providing a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the country, a significant part of the current problem and proposed immigration reform legislation is focused on modifications that will attempt to break down some of the barriers that adversely impact employees, businesses and entrepreneurs. So what are the barriers and do the current proposals fix them?

Options to start a business or expand a business are limited, complicated and expensive

While options for foreign start-up entrepreneurs exist, they are limited and can require a significant investment amount and/or other requirements that can be difficult to meet. Moreover, it is interesting to note that the current options for entrepreneurs would present obstacles for a foreign national with an idea like Facebook to get a Visa unless he had a significant investment amount. For example, the EB-5 Visa generally requires an investor to invest $1,000,000 and create 10 full-time jobs over two years. This Visa is often referred to as the million-dollar green card and given the buy in cost, it is only available to a select few. With these requirements, it is no wonder that the quota of 10,000 visas that are available in this category every year has not ever been used.

Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Share on facebook