Even as the economy has slowed, the nation’s visa system remains a high hurdle for foreigners who want to start businesses and create jobs in the United States.
Few viable options exist for entrepreneurs eager to come to America, and those that do offer little predictability.
For example, the investor visa carries a $1 million price tag — too high for most aspiring small business owners. And the so-called executive visa requires immigrants to start a firm abroad and create a U.S. subsidiary.
For those who want to launch in the United States, the principal route is through E-2 visas. But they’re available only to people in certain nations, prohibiting entry from the world’s most promising countries, such as Brazil, India and China. Also, they must be renewed every few years and offer no path to permanent residency.
The U.S. policies are at odds with other countries that are opening doors for entrepreneurs. They have the ideas, build the companies, create the jobs. Why not invite them in?
Chile does it by offering $40,000 of equity-free capital and temporary visas. Singapore sets a low bar for “EntrePasses” and creates an avenue for residency.
Meanwhile, the U.S. immigration system can be openly hostile, say business owners, advocates and lawyers.
For a British couple who came in 1995 to manage a hotel and restaurant in Missouri, it might mean soon sending their eldest daughter back to a country she barely knows.
Ali and Ian Gray came on E-2 visas, and the program allowed them to bring Lauren, then four years old. She grew up on the flat plains, was a cheerleader in high school and studied dance at a nearby women’s college.
But she will no longer be able to stay on her parents’ visa as of Wednesday, when she turns 21. She can try and get her own visa but she’s been on that list since she was 12. The U.S. immigration system is so backlogged she’s still in line.
“It’s just not right and not fair. I am an American,” Lauren said. “I had so many plans here, so many options, so many connections. I’m going to have to learn an entire new culture.
No consideration is given to her family’s economic contribution to the tiny Midwestern town of Trenton, where they’ve doubled the staff at the Lakeview Motor Lodge and Restaurant to 30. . . (read more)
Article by: Jose Pagliery
Published by: CNNMoney