OPINION

Silicon Valley seeks innovative immigrants

Bobbie Johnson

Silicon Valley veterans are calling for new laws to encourage more technology entrepreneurs to move to America, as the area attempts to hold on to its crown as the world’s hi-tech hotspot.

Reform of U.S. immigration laws is one of the hot topics facing the Obama administration. The internet campaign, which has the support of a range of entrepreneurs and investors, is encouraging the White House to back a “startup visa” giving hi-tech entrepreneurs U.S. residency in return for starting a company.

The American technology industry, particularly in northern California, has long relied on bringing in talent from overseas. A quarter of American technology companies have foreign-born founders, and more than half of all Silicon Valley businesses were founded by immigrants.

The Founders Visa campaign argues regulations stifle innovation by forcing students to return to their home countries after completing their studies, or by issuing employment-based visas that lock people into working for large companies.

Its proposals would modify an immigrant visa that is reserved for people who invest at least $500,000 in the U.S. and make it easier for hi-tech entrepreneurs to set up businesses. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

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