The United States is locked in a new arms race for that most precious resource -- the future entrepreneurs upon whom economic growth depends. Substantial research shows that immigrants play a key role in American job creation. For example, over 25% of the technology companies founded between 1995-2005 had a key immigrant founder. These companies produced over $52 billion dollars in sales in 2005, and employed 450,000 workers that year. Similarly, 24% of all the patents filed in the US in 2006 had a foreign resident as inventor or co-inventor.
If we allow other countries to welcome these immigrants, support them and nurture them, we will lose out in this race. We will not lose on their products -- after all, most of them are global. We will not necessarily harm investors, either: as capital is increasingly global, they will be able to invest wherever good ideas are born. The cost will be felt in jobs -- thousands of new jobs that could have been created here, but weren't.
America is losing the global arms race for entrepreneurial talent. There is a solution, called the Startup Visa. There is a special visa for international investors that want to bring capital to this country to start a business with. It's called the EB-5 visa, and we already set aside 10,000 every year for this purpose. Yet this policy does nothing to bolster our position in the arms race -- the visa attaches to the investor, not the entrepreneur.
With a small change to the EB-5 definition, we can reverse that priority, making the visa available to qualified entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital from American investors to create jobs, economic growth, and assure our future prosperity.
The Startup Visa as a weapon in the startup arms race
While we're all waiting for news on the Startup Visa, here is an extract from Eric Ries (of The Lean Startup fame) on why a 'Startup Visa' might be good for the US. It's so well argued, it almost makes every foriegn entrepreneur want to go back home to respect their patriotic roots as much as Rie respects his (presumably American) roots.