One Part of the Immigration Bill That Can Drive Jobs
Policy + Politics

One Part of the Immigration Bill That Can Drive Jobs

REUTERS/Keith Bedford

The “startup visa” might be the most overlooked – but essential – part of the Senate’s immigration reform bill.

It’s not a source of political tension. Senate Republicans have insisted on stricter standards for border security in the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” bill, which mainly gets spotlighted for creating a 13-year path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.

Nor has it been part of the economic debate. The Congressional Budget Office this week projected that the bill would slash the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade, since granting legal status to these workers would increase the size of the labor force.

Critics such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) charge that welcoming more immigrants will be a deficit nightmare several decades from now, as those new residents and their children qualify for government entitlement programs.

But none of those analyses consider the benefit of granting residency to foreign entrepreneurs who start a business in the United States.

The National Venture Capital Association released preliminary findings Thursday from a forthcoming survey about the impact that these entrepreneurs have. It points to a massive economic upside.

“If Congress enacts the solutions proposed by today’s cutting-edge companies – a startup visa category as well as more temporary visas and green cards for highly skilled foreign nationals – then we are likely to see more jobs and innovations created in the United States,” said Stuart Anderson, who conducted the survey as the executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy.

Of the venture-funded companies that went public between 2006 and 2012, a third had at least one immigrant founder.

That six-year time frame stretches from the housing bubble’s peak to the destruction caused by the Great Recession. During that span, the economy shed 439,000 jobs.

By contrast, the immigrant-founded start-ups with venture funding that went public employ 65,450 people.

And while much of the immigration debate revolves around the Hispanic vote, the survey shows that these entrepreneurs largely hail from other spots in the globe: India, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Israel and Germany.