US Border Patrol agent Jerry Conlin looks out over Tijuana, Mexico, along the US - Mexico border Thursday. AP photo.
Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., on Wednesday announced their introduction of an amendment to immigration reform legislation now before Congress. The senators say the amendment will encourage foreign entrepreneurs and highly skilled college graduates of U.S. universities to start businesses in the United States.
The amendment would change capital requirements currently in the federal INVEST program designed to help entrepreneurs start businesses and grow the U.S. economy.
The senators said the changes will help ensure that all startups, from software to biotech to clean energy companies, are able to take root in the United States instead of elsewhere around the globe.
“Our amendment provides a smart, targeted improvement to the bipartisan immigration proposal by expanding the ability of qualified entrepreneurs and foreign born STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates to pursue investments and new jobs here in America,” Warner said.
“We need to become more competitive in the global race for talent, and this amendment provides additional tools that will help boost America’s competitiveness.”
Udall said the United States is “stronger and more prosperous thanks to immigrants,” and while the immigration reform legislation currently before the Senate “takes small steps in the right direction,” the country needs to “do more to keep the United States from falling behind in the global economic race.”
Elements of their amendment would lower the capital requirement for renewal of the non-immigrant visa from $250,000 to $150,000 “to ensure that all types of successful entrepreneurs have a chance to stay in the U.S. to grow new companies.”
The amendment clarifies several provisions to allow entrepreneurs to remain in the United States if they have successfully sold their company or taken it public during a three-year period, doubles the number of available green cards for each fiscal year, and extends the time frame for qualified entrepreneurs to meet revenue targets.
Warner and Virginia’s other senator, Democrat Tim Kaine, support the Obama administration’s push to reform the nation’s immigration laws. Kaine recently gave a speech before the Senate on behalf of the reform movement completely in Spanish, believed to be the first time a speech was ever delivered in Congress in a language other than English.