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The startup visa

April 13, 2009

There are a lot of people who don’t like immigration because they worry about foreign workers taking jobs away from native citizens.

But what if the immigrants were creating jobs for Americans?

Paul Graham has proposed creating special visas for foreigners who are looking to found new companies in the United States. As he envisions it, the government would offer 10,000 foreign entrepreneurs a chance to realize their dreams each year:

By definition these 10,000 founders wouldn’t be taking jobs from Americans: it could be part of the terms of the visa that they couldn’t work for existing companies, only new ones they’d founded. In fact they’d cause there to be more jobs for Americans, because the companies they started would hire more employees as they grew.

If the plan worked (and there is no reason why it shouldn’t), these immigrants would create thousands of new companies every year — helping America continue to innovate and providing many potential new jobs for the future.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Adam Compton permalink
    April 13, 2009 4:43 pm

    It is an interesting idea. I think we can all admit there are a lot of problems in our immigration system. Like students that get the visa to go to school here, but have a lot of problems getting them to work here. Or top people for companies like Google that can get the visa, but their families cannot. So, instead they work from Canada.

  2. Dallas permalink
    April 13, 2009 5:06 pm

    It’s interesting, but I’m wondering how said immigrant would provide support for him/herself while starting up their company. In a best case scenario, it’s at least 3-6 months of groundwork before an idea can get going.

    Wouldn’t that, then, limit this to wealthy foreigners who likely are already able to get around immigration issues?

    Perhaps add some sort of caveat about temporary employment?

  3. April 13, 2009 5:14 pm

    Obviously funding is an important issue, but:

    A) If many of these visas are used by wealthy immigrants, why would that be a problem? They would still be creating jobs and spending money inside the US.

    B) If this idea were to happen, then the market would provide at least some part of the answer. There will be venture capital firms and angel investors who would no doubt focus on providing early funding for these start-ups.

    C) Why wouldn’t we build some quality control into this process? We will need to create an accreditation procedure, anyway. Visas could be offered first to those with the best business ideas.

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