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Startup Visa Movement Gains Ground

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Yesterday, Mike Bloomberg went to Washington and spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations on the topic of immigration reform. The text of the entire speech is here. I just read the whole thing and I'm encouraged and excited that the chorus for intelligent immigration reform has gotten louder. This quote was my favorite:

we must stop telling foreign entrepreneurs to build their companies in other countries

We have seen so many great entrepreneurs struggle with visa issues over the years that we were founding members of the startup visa movement. In his speech, Mike Bloomberg specifically called for passage of a startup visa provision:

A foreign entrepreneur with backing from American investors should be given a temporary visa to start a company in America. If after two or three years, the business has successfully yielded new American jobs, the entrepreneur should be allowed to continue to run his or her business and receive permanent legal status. We are a nation of entrepreneurs because we are a nation of immigrants and in the 21st century, the global economy will revolve more than ever around entrepreneurs.

Yes!

But he didn't stop there. The Mayor of our fine city also proposed the following reforms:

- A green card stapled to a diploma:

We are investing millions of dollars to educate these students at our leading universities, and then giving the economic dividends back to our competitors - for free. The two parties should be able to agree on a policy that allows any university graduate, with an advanced degree in an essential field, to obtain a green card -- and a chance to help us grow our economy. We must allow these students to stay here and be part of our future or we will watch our future disappear with them.

- More H1B visas:

right now, the cap on H1-B visas and green cards is much too low, and caps on green cards are set by country. So Iceland gets the same number of visas as India. That may be fair to each country, but it's not fair to American businesses. We should end these arbitrary limits and end the cap on the high-skill H1-B visas. Let the market decide. It's basic free-market economics -- and both parties ought to be able to get behind it.

- immigration reform for agriculture and tourism:

we must ensure that major industries, such as agriculture and tourism, that rely on those workers just starting up the economic ladder have access to foreign workers when they cannot fill the jobs with American workers. These employers want a legal work force, but our current system makes that extremely difficult. Farmers have to go through multiple levels of approvals to do basic hiring, and in Georgia, where they have cracked down on illegal farm-workers, farm owners are experiencing severe labor shortages. That's driving up their costs and leaving crops un-harvested. At a time when food prices are rising, this is the last thing American consumers -- and farmers -- need.

Do yourself a favor and read the entire speech. It's not long. Mike lays out a sensible and intelligent way to reform immigration laws without getting into the contentious issues that have held back immigration reform for many years. And if you agree with the Mayor, do everyone a favor and call your elected officials in Washington and tell them you are also for intelligent immigration reform (as opposed to comprehensive immigration reform). I've done that and it has helped. Getting your voice into the chorus on intelligent immigration reform would be helpful too.