Immigration, Entrepreneurs and Bipartisan Legislation in the Senate

By at 22 February, 2013, 11:24 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

How about some actual bipartisanship that would be beneficial for entrepreneurship in the U.S.?

On February 13, the Startup Act 3.0 was introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), along with Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

As noted in the press statement on the legislation, the Startup Act 3.0 includes the following key provisions regarding immigration and entrepreneurship: 

  • “Creates an Entrepreneur’s Visa for legal immigrants, so they can remain in the United States, launch businesses and create jobs;
  • “Creates a new STEM visa so U.S.-educated foreign students, who graduate with a master’s or Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, can receive a green card and stay in this country where their talent and ideas can fuel growth and create American jobs;
  • “Eliminates the per-country caps for employment-based immigrant visas – which hinder U.S. employers from recruiting the top-tier talent they need to grow.”


Other parts of the legislation would make permanent the capital gains exemption on selling startup stock after five years; create an R&D exemption for startups with less than $5 million in annual receipts; and require “all government agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed ‘significant rules’ with an economic impact of $100 million or more” in order to “help determine the efficacy of regulations and their potential impact on the formation and growth of new businesses.”

Senator Moran said, “America has long been seen as the land of opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs. We must do everything possible to make certain that remains true. At a time when our economy needs jobs first and foremost, America’s archaic government policies have us falling behind. We are losing talent and jobs by the day to countries like Canada, Chile, and the United Kingdom that are aggressively courting the world’s best and brightest. We must pass Startup Act 3.0, or we risk losing the next generation of great entrepreneurs and the jobs they create to countries that have taken action to attract and better support these innovators.”

It is critical to keep in mind the role that immigrant entrepreneurs have played, and hopefully will continue to play, in the U.S. economy.

For example, consider the key findings in the high-tech arena from a 2007 study done by researchers at Duke University and the University of California, at Berkeley. Namely, that among technology and engineering companies started up in the United States between 1995 and 2005, 25.3 percent had at least one key founder who was foreign born.

For good measure, there was a January 2012 report titled “Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy” from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Immigration Policy Center (IPC), in which it was reported, “Immigrants are more likely than native workers to choose self-employment and starting their own businesses. Of naturalized citizens, 5.1% were employed in their own incorporated businesses, compared with only 3.7% of employed native-born citizens who were employed in their own incorporated businesses.”

Finally, it was noted in the press release on the Startup Act 3.0: “Of the current Fortune 500 companies – including Apple, Google and eBay – more than 40 percent were founded by a first- or second-generation American. These American companies employ more than 10 million people.”

Immigration and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. After all, someone willing to leave his or her native country to live and work in another country is, by nature, a risk taker. We should not be surprised that these risk takers turn out to be economic risk takers as well.

The immigration reform debate has returned, and it is highly charged. This legislation would seem to be at least one area where broad bipartisanship can be achieved, with benefits spreading throughout our economy. 


Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


Keating has written two new books titled Root of All Evil? A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel, and An Advent for Religious Liberty: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel.

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