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Silicon Valley venture capitalists, execs come to Washington for visa reforms

Immigrants who have started businesses in the United States and created jobs should be able to stay in the country, a group of Silicon Valley executives is telling lawmakers and government leaders this week.

The group, which includes venture capitalists and representatives from companies such as Facebook, is backing a bill introduced last month by Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard G. Lugar (D-Ind.) that would expand green cards to foreign national entrepreneurs. Specifically, it would revamp the E-5 visa program, to allow entrepreneurs who put $250,000 into a jobs-producing business (with $100,000 in angel investments) obtain a green card.

They met with White House officials and members of Congress to press their case. On Twitter, the cause drew attention through several tweets a minute containing the hashtag #startupvisa.

“Job creation is a national priority,” said Dave McClure, organizer of the trip and a venture capitalist and former software entrepreneur. “With the Startup Visa Act, we can create thousands of new jobs immediately, and tens of thousands more as these new startups grow into the next Googles, Yahoos, and eBays of their generation. It’s a huge win-win, and we’re traveling to DC to encourage the quick passage of this much-needed reform.”

Silicon Valley has long pushed for immigration reforms that would help them draw and retain the engineering and business talent they need from abroad.

“More than one million developers and entrepreneurs from at least 180 countries have built on Facebook’s open platform," said Facebook's director of public policy, Timothy Sparapani. "This rapid growth is a testament to the importance of attracting creative thinkers who have fresh ideas about how Facebook and other forward-thinking companies can facilitate extraordinary new services that improve our society, drive economic growth, and create jobs.”

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 3, 2010; 5:54 PM ET
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Well i hate to admit it but John Kerry and Richard G. Lugar are on to something. This superficially sounds like a great bill.

Ill write my Senators and Congressmen to support it.

Posted by: Homunculus | March 4, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Give us your tired, you poor, your huddled masses yearning to get on benefits....oh, and maybe an entrepreneur, or two, but certainly no more...

Posted by: jmf3210 | March 4, 2010 2:37 AM | Report abuse

there are more than enough unemployed Americans to do any job needed...
what about them...
should you pass this bill...
it should contain a provision that they cannot employ visa labour workers from their own countries...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 4, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

TheStartup Visa Act is a great idea. However, just like the AgJobs bill and the DREAM Act it cannot pass independently. It has to be used as bargaining chip to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2010.

Posted by: mehuwss | March 4, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Why not just give each unemployed American $250,000 so they can start their own business? Once again...if you are wealthy you get a free pass - not only to take the few remaining available jobs, but to start a business AND get citizenship! The US has ALWAYS only been about $$$.

Posted by: Sadler | March 4, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

"revamp the E-5 visa program, to allow entrepreneurs who put $250,000 into a jobs-producing business (with $100,000 in angel investments) obtain a green card."

the thing is...
250,000 is not alot of money to produce good paying jobs...
thats why the amount was 1 million not 250,000...
If it does pass, they can't hire any visa labour workers, they must hire Americans...
hey you dems...
how about Americans first for a change...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 4, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

And what about hiring tech workers over 40?

Posted by: kirtu | March 4, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Okay, so these guys invest money to create jobs.

But are any of those jobs for Americans (natural or naturalized)?

Or do those jobs only act as springboards to import their countrymen and relatives on H-1B visas to undercut American businesses?

History indicates that it's the latter scenario, in the vast majority of cases.

Posted by: thardman | March 4, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

2,000,000 unemployed American tech workers.

The Great Recession.

It would take 18,000,000 new jobs during the next 7 years for our economy to return to where it was on 1/20/2001.

Estimated 12,000,000 illegal "guest workers" already in America, with additional thousands arriving every day. And that doesn't even count the hundreds of thousands of so-called "legal" "guest workers" here on H-1-B visa, taking away additional hundreds of thousands of family wage jobs from trained ready-to-work Americans.

And now, a new proposal to sell green cards to the highest bidder. Opening offer: $250,000.

America, where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
Don't you know we need you now,
we can't fight alone against the monster.

Posted by: seattle_wa | March 4, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

In 2000 the United States led the world in computer technology with a majority of the advancement made in software development by Americans. The enrollment of Americans in the Computer Sciences were at all time highs.

Then the large use of cheap foreign workers began by American companies when there were plenty of Americans with skills.

By 2005 the enrollment of Americans in the Computer Sciences dropped over 50 percent from 2000 and was below the level of Americans enrolled in the Computer Sciences in 1996.

American students understood there were no entry level jobs for Americans and that a career in computer technology was the kiss of death.

When if ever do those in government recognize that the enrollment of Americans in the Computer Sciences is not an option but instead a national priority?

Posted by: bsallamack | March 4, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

No, this is a BAD IDEA.

These foreign "entrepreneurs" do not need to hire Americans. The jobs they produce can go to family members or friends from their home country (H1B visa).

Nothing says this will create jobs for American tech workers, who suffer from high unemployment and age discrimination already.

Posted by: pmendez | March 4, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

mehuwss: Dream on! Not only will there be no amnesty for illegal aliens in 2010, I predict that as the jobs recession grinds on and more and more middle class Americans run out of savings and out of patience, there will be a massive crackdown on illegal aliens in 2011. Plus, a moratorium on legal immigration until unemployment gets below 6%.

Posted by: pmendez | March 4, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Just rename the bill "full employment for H1-B destroy Americans over 40"
Seriously one of the leaders for a tech support center down south has already said he would not hire Americans. When are we going to wake up and protect American workers?
The big corporations support this because they want cheap labor.

Posted by: mmad2 | March 4, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who has ever read Prof Norman Matloff's papers could never vote for this, not without restrictions mandating limits on importing more H-1B workers.

History shows that the USA never had a shortage of intellectual talent. To be sure, neither do most other countries. Yet people from places like India have no college loans to pay off, so they have a price-point advantage and can take less then Americans graduating at about the same time. And when you look at Americans of the age who can take as little because they have completed repaying college loans, the excuse for importing foreign workers is "oh those Americans are old and out of date". That last part is a raw joke since most of those older Americans had significant parts in creating the technology the kids study in school.

That excuse is akin to "we don't hire professors because the students know more".

No, every argument you hear from these folks amounts to "don't hire Americans, I have relatives and in-laws I want to import".

If you want to know what you get, look back to that H-1B guy who set a logic bomb in the servers at FANNIE MAE and FREDDIE MAC. If it hadn't been discovered, it would have melted down the entirety of US home lending data, at the height of the mortgage-backed securities implosion.

Sure, he worked cheap... at sabotage.

Posted by: thardman | March 4, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

This is like throwing a monkey wrench in the works of thousands of "legal immigrants" patiently awaiting their turn at getting green-cards so they can carry on with their lives,start their own business and be a part of Mainstream America! Why not get all the World's Businessmen to cough up 250K for green cards and bridge the budgeet deficit? Excellent idea! What's next?

Posted by: jgj123 | March 4, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Great. Bring more of those towel wearing curry sucking pieces of trash.

Posted by: misterbumbles | March 4, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

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