It should be easier for foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses in Silicon Valley in the US as talented and technical professionals are needed, it is claimed. A group of politicians are lobbying for an overhaul of the American immigration system in 2010 including a new visa to encourage foreign entrepreneurial start-ups in the Californian valley which is home to global giants like Google and Yahoo. According to Congressman Jared Polis there are similar programmes in Canada, the UK and Australia aimed at attracting the best talent possible into the IT sector and the US is losing out.
He is leading the campaign for a new start-up visa that would streamline the EB-5 visa system, which was initially introduced in 1990 to attract foreign capital. Each year 10,000 EB-5 visas are available for applicants able to invest US$1 million and create 10 full time jobs. He explained that the new visa would be part of a new class of eligibility and would be granted to foreign entrepreneurs if their business plan attracts either $250,000 from a venture capital operating company that is primarily US based or $100,000 from another investor.
'Every day the American economy is losing ground, not to mention high-tech jobs and technologies, to India and China because foreign-born entrepreneurs cannot secure a visa to stay in the US,' Polis said. A bill proposing the changes is due to go before Committees next month. Other proposed requirements will be that entrepreneurs must show that the business will create five to ten jobs or generate a profit and at least $1million in revenue. All of these requirements will be debated and may be changed.
Critics though of the proposed new visa have said making it easier for entrepreneurs to start up new businesses will take jobs away from Americans. However Polis said the new jobs would not be there in the first place. The campaigners say that figures released by YouNoodle, a company that monitors the start-up sector, shows that if 10,000 start-up visas were made available over 3,000 additional new innovative and funded companies would be based in the US every year, generating more than 10,000 jobs on average every year. In the first 10 years that would add up to over 500,000 highly-skilled new jobs.
Meanwhile, the US has lifted a 22 year immigration ban which has stopped anyone with HIV/AIDS from entering the country. President Obama said the ban was not compatible with US plans to be a leader in the fight against the disease. The new rules came into force this week and some say without it the US would not have been able to host the bi-annual global HIV/Aids summit for the first time in 2012. The ban was imposed at the height of a global panic about the disease at the end of the 1980s. It put the US in a group of just 12 countries, including Libya and Saudi Arabia, that excluded anyone suffering from HIV/Aids.