Research by Duke, UC-Berkeley, NYU and Harvard has revealed that immigrants founded 52 percent of start-up companies in Silicon Valley between 1995 to 2005 and filed 25.6 percents of patents in the U.S. This is an increase of 337 percent since 1998.
The reason for this increase was that these non-nationals had been in "immigration limbo." These foreign entrepreneurs were waiting for their permanent resident visa but the immigration quota had been exhausted.
The only option currently open to highly skilled workers is the H-1B sponsorship visa. But demand far outstrips supply, with some 163,000 people applying for 65,000 H-1Bs distributed annually.
This is why Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, are sponsoring a bill to create new U.S. startup visas. The visas would be available to anyone and would provide a foreign-born entrepreneur who is able to obtain $100,000 investment to gain permanent residency. The entrepreneur would also have to create five new U.S. jobs over two years, raise more than $1 million in venture capital or generate sales of $1 million annually.
A new “Fordham Urban Law Journal” article supports this federal policy change as it will mean change and growth for the U.S. economy. The article's authors, John Tyler, vice president and corporate secretary of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which focuses on entrepreneurship, and Peter Schuck, law professor at Yale University, believe that changing the U.S. approach to visas, especially those for immigrants with higher level degrees, will lead to innovation and growth.
According to a report on the Finfacts website, Canada, Australia, Japan, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have streamlined their process of hiring highly skilled foreign workers and potential entrepreneurs.
Finfacts reports that immigrants consistently create one-quarter of businesses which is remarkable considering the ratio of native to foreign workers. Immigrants start companies at twice the ratio of the U.S. population.