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Visa reform

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Legislation has been introduced in the Senate that would expand opportunities to allow foreign-born entrepreneurs who invest in businesses and create jobs in the United States to remain here.

A bill backed by a coalition of investors, business people and lawmakers would create 75,000 visas for foreign-born entrepreneurs who are here legally in the United States. They would be allowed to stay if they raise $100,000 in capital and hire at least two American workers during the first year they had the visa, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The visa would be good for four years, if they maintained an average of five full-time employees during the last three years. They would then be allow to apply for a green card to remain and work in the United States as a permanent resident.

The United States does not set aside visas for entrepreneurs, which forces them to apply for other types of visas. However, they would be available under the proposed Startup Act 2.0 bill. The legislation would address shortcomings in other visa programs, such as the H-1B visa, that make it difficult for legal immigrants to remain here or gain entry.

Competition for the limited number of available visas also makes it hard for American companies to hire and retain highly educated and trained foreign workers. Many companies maintain offices outside the United States, where their foreign-born employees can work.

Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, who introduced the bill, believes “we are losing the battle for entrepreneurial talent in the United States, and we need policies in place that turn that around.”

The legislation faces opposition from those who would like to tie it to broader immigration reform that has been stalled in Congress for years.

Without reform soon, creative entrepreneurs will continue to take their businesses and the jobs that could be held by job-seeking Americans out of the country.

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