A No-Brainer Immigration Reform: Visas for Start-up Founders

by on September 11, 2009 · 19 comments

It’s bad enough that America educates the world’s best and brightest, only to send them home for lack of visas. But to drive away immigrants who come to the U.S. and start businesses is just unconscionable. I hope Paul Graham’s idea for a “Founder Visa” takes off: 10,000 / year for founders of companies that are started in the U.S. Brad Feld has a great column on this today, answering questions about how the visa would work.

As the Economist said on the related issue of H1-B visas for skilled foreign workers:

SILICON VALLEY, as the old joke goes, was built on ICs—Indians and Chinese that is, not integrated circuits. As of the last decennial census, in 2000, more than half of all the engineers in the valley were foreign-born, and about half of those were either Indian or Chinese—and since 2000 the ratio of Indians and Chinese is reckoned to have gone up steeply. Understandably, therefore Silicon Valley has strong views on America’s visa regime.

I suspect the demographics for entrepreneurs are similar, especially in Sillicon Valley, which has long been driven largely by “enginpreneurs” rather than MBAs.

What an absurd country we live in: We accept, for better or worse, massive illegal immigration across our porous southern border as a fact of life, but can’t muster the political will to give legal status to the most creative and innovative from around the world drawn to the Land of Opportunity made possible by capitalism. So, being dutiful and law-abiding, these “Talented Tenth” go home to suffer under the dead weight of bureaucracies even more oppressive, incompetent and corrupt than our own. How sad.

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