Jul 03, 2018

Turning Away Immigrant Entrepreneurs Will Jeopardize U.S. Tech

What happens to the land of opportunity if the federal government takes away the welcome mat for immigrant entrepreneurs? Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed revoking the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), which allows innovative small business owners to stay in the U.S. for up to five years.

“The startup and venture community is very disappointed with DHS’s short-sighted decision to turn away American jobs that would be created by the International Entrepreneur Rule,” said Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of National Venture Capital Association. “The facts are clear: our country needs more entrepreneurship, which is exactly what the International Entrepreneur Rule would bring. We will continue to explain to the administration why immigrant entrepreneurship benefits our country and must be supported by policymakers.”

In a letter about immigration to Congress and President Trump, a bipartisan, diverse-thinking group of 1,470 economists pointed out that immigrants are “far more likely to work in innovative, job-creating fields.”

There’s already a shortage of tech workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 1.2 million job openings by 2026. That includes an overall increase in new tech jobs plus replacing career-changers and retiring baby-boomers, according to a recent report.

First-generation immigrants have founded 50% of the most highly valued tech companies, and second-generation immigrants started another 10%. Think Apple, Google, Amazon, PayPal, and Netflix to name a few. Together they “founded 60% of the most highly valued tech companies and are responsible for 1.5 million employees,” according to the 2018 Internet Trends Report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

The regulation has been in limbo since DHS delayed IER going into effect July 12, 2017. The Obama Administration went this route to court tech talent after attempts to get a startup visa through Congress failed.

IER may not be enough to compete with the startup visas that Canada, France, Germany, and Singapore offer to bring talent to their shores. “It’s a relatively modest rule … .,” said Leon Rodriguez, the former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for President Barack Obama. “It’s completely provisional. It can be revoked at any time; there’s no path to a green card, there’s no path to citizenship, so it’s a relatively modest thing that was being done.”

Some proponents of immigrant entrepreneurs say that IER was flawed fundamentally. Other IER opponents maintain that only Congress should be creating immigration laws.

DHS is no longer accepting written comments about rescinding IER. All that’s left to do is wait to see if IER will be rescinded. 

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About the author

Andrea Mather
Andrea Mather is a writer and coach whose first business lessons were watching her parents start an engineering firm. She loves helping people take small steps and big leaps toward enjoying healthier, more fulfilled lives. Andrea has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

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