Recently, Senators Mark Warner (Democrat) of Virginia, Chris Coons (Democrat) of Delaware and Jerry Moran (Republican) of Kansas introduced Startup Act 3.0 to the Senate. An updated version of Startup Act 2.0, the new bill’s central goal is both to attract top talent and to keep high-skilled workers and talented entrepreneurs inside the U.S.
The bill proposes the creation of 75,000 visas for immigrant entrepreneurs who can raise $100,000 or more in investment capital to start a company, 50,000 new visas for STEM students, providing them with a path to citizenship, and removing to cap on visas for high skilled H-1B workers. (Check out this infographic for more details.)
Research continues to corroborate the positive impact of skilled immigrants on job creation and innovation in the United States. A 2012 report by the Information Technology Industry Council, the Partnership for a New American Economy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that “every foreign-born student who graduates from a U.S. university with an advanced degree and stays to work in STEM has been shown to create on average 2.62 jobs for American workers—often because they help lead in innovation, research, and development.” And in 2011, a report by the Partnership for a New American Economy revealed that immigrants were founders of 18 percent of all Fortune 500 companies, many of which are high tech companies with an estimate that as of 2010, these companies generated $1.7 trillion in annual revenue and employed 3.6 million workers globally.
Most recently, a February 2013 report by the Kauffman foundation estimates that offering startup visas has the potential to add, conservatively, between 500,000 and 1.6 million new jobs in the United States over the next ten years. The impact this could have on the U.S. economy cannot be overemphasized. By some estimates, this range of jobs represents 0.5 to 1.6 percent of GDP or about $70 billion to $224 billion in economic gain.
Comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the needs of foreign born startup entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers is crucial for the advancement of the U.S. innovation economy. Despite having the world’s best higher education system, the U.S. continues to lag significantly in its openness to high skilled immigration at a time when other countries around the world are opening their borders to talented STEM founders.
We have previously highlighted efforts that countries like Canada, Singapore and Chile are making to attract the world’s best and brightest to start high growth businesses on their soil. In today’s knowledge economy, a protectionist labor market for technology talent can significantly hurt innovation, slowing down job growth and economic progress.
Startup Acts 1.0 and 2.0 unfortunately never made it past the Senate floor. It is crucial that Startup Act 3.0 be given a chance this time. Despite the odds, more than 44% of companies started in Silicon Valley since 2006 were started by immigrants. Imagine the flood of innovation that could be unleashed if this bill is signed into law.
So show your support for entrepreneurship and American innovation by joining the positive momentum behind Startup Act 3.0.
Photo courtesy of Senator Mark Warner.