September 8, 2013

HENRY FORD WASN'T AN IMMIGRANT, HIS FATHER WAS:

Want To Create American Jobs? Remove American Barriers To Immigration (Ian E. Scott, 9/06/13, Forbes)

While an improvement, the current business immigration reform proposals do not go far enough and a U.S. job protectionist cloud hangs over most of the proposals.   A few observations.

While the proposed Senate Bill increases the annual cap on H-1B visas from 85,000 to up to ultimately (over a period of years) a maximum of 180,000, it still maintains changeable quota levels, adds additional wage and other compliance requirements, and also makes the fees associated with the Visa much more expensive for some IT companies.  This type of additional protectionism is not warranted (or needed) given most employers would already chose a U.S. worker given the current fees and administrative requirements.  While the proposed H-1B reform takes a positive step by providing more H-1B Visas, this is outweighed by burdensome wage and other requirements. The last thing that businesses need is added costs and additional reporting and compliance requirements.

One very positive aspect of the reform proposals though, is the elimination of cap amounts in some visa categories and the principles here should be extended to other Visas.  For example, highly skilled and exceptionally talented immigrants are not subject to a cap.  In addition, candidates with advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields from U.S. universities will also not be subject to the cap and it will be easier (not easy enough though) for them to find jobs after graduation.  While this is a positive move for these students, there are students in many other fields that have spent years (and hundreds of thousands of dollars) being educated here and will not benefit from these proposals.  While a "merit based" system is also being introduced, the phase in time is long dated and it is not clear how it will benefit all of the stakeholders.

So what about those who want to start a business?  As another attempt to attract foreign investment and create jobs, the bill creates an X visa and EB-6 Visa.  Both are geared towards entrepreneurs whose businesses have attracted a substantial investment amount ($100,000 and up) in investment, or have created jobs (three to five depending on the Visa), and generated significant annual revenue ($250,000 - $750,000).   The person who meets these requirements should be given a visa but isn't that obvious?  Also the bar is high given that many technology success stories start out as a mere idea.

While these are positive additions for those with large bank rolls, perhaps a revamp of the E-2 visa simplifying some of the requirements (in particular the investment amount requirement) and expanding the availability to all countries would make business start-up more accessible to all.  The idea would be to create a system to provide small business start-ups who have good ideas and a bit of capital the chance to live the American dream. Founders that have great ideas should be presented with an opportunity rather than an obstacle and the current proposals do not go far enough to give great idea the chance to success.  Even a foreign founder with a great idea like Facebook would have a difficult time getting a visa under the current proposals without a substantial capital investment.

Posted by at September 8, 2013 8:08 AM
  

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