Are 'entrepreneur and STEM visas' necessary?

Are 'entrepreneur and STEM visas' necessary?

Summary: America's about more than lucky charms and oversized meals -- and there's top talent that wants to stay.

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TOPICS: IT Employment
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For the student collective who fled across the pond to complete their studies and then are summarily booted back to their own countries after graduation -- unless they find an employer who is willing to be coerced, flattered or offered marriage in return for the golden ticket of a permanent visa -- there may be hope.

Recently introduced to the Senate, legislation known as the Startup Act 2.0 has the potential to help spur economic growth through tapping the core of postgraduates who land, learn, graduate and vanish after using up their 29-month student visa.

If you're one of the lucky ones who are studying a STEM subject ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) then a bright future filled with lucky charms and cookie peanut butter may be on the horizon.

On the heels of the JOBS Act becoming legalized -- which allows for crowdfunding-based startup investments to keep fledgling businesses ticking over -- the new proposal would create two new types of visa.

One visa would focus on STEM. After foreign students earn advanced degrees in these areas and graduate from a U.S. university, they could be offered the chance to change their allegiance and work in the United States without ignoring their visa parole or sleeping with the boss -- in return, the student stays in the field for five years.

The other is primarily known as an "Entrepreneur's visa". For foreigners slaving at the mouth to exploit U.S. markets, it paves the way for them to stay in the country -- as long as they continue to expand their business for three to five years -- and hire an American or two.

Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Chris Coons worked with Republicans Jerry Moran and Marco Rubio to propose the bill. In addition to the easing of visa restrictions, it would also create a credit system targeted at encouraging startup firms to specialize and invest in research development through the lure of tax breaks.

The political arena has shifted. Previously, visas for immigrating workers were arguably used as a bargaining chip, and often became meshed with concerns over what could become a horde of illegal immigrants jumping the border.

However, the current economic climate has altered the playing field. Now, similar scenarios that UK border patrols have to face -- digging people out of hijacked lorries and simply escorting them back to try again later due to lack of identification -- is far from priority.

Now, how to encourage and stabilize economic growth is at the forefront of the U.S. government's mind -- and this may involve the grudgingly-given green card to grace American soil.

The first visa, which would allow STEM subject graduates to apply for residency could lower the rising number of vacancies in these areas. In a society which is dependent on technology, by retaining more highly-skilled workers, this may help businesses fill their job positions as well as expand and maintain good profitability levels -- in turn, securing livelihoods and creating more job opportunity in the wider economy.

It may also encourage development in research fields -- everything from smart grid technology to innovative design and products. If this occurs, business booms, jobs are created and new businesses can exploit consumer niches and stay afloat.

To some, STEM may seem like a niche concept, but it can affect every facet of our economy.

As an example, a research centre hires foreign postgraduates -- in the U.S. as their applications were approved -- and creates a new type of medical device that monitors a person's health. This is accepted for consumer manufacture. A business purchases the patent, and sets up a venue for its production.

New jobs appear, for both manufacture and distribution of the product.

Not only did the science-based device keep the scientists in work, it also created a ripple effect -- contributing to the advancement of the medical world, but also contributing to the workforce. Possibly, the device's success inspired additional research -- and the pattern may have repeated itself, to the delight of many an unemployed, debt-crippled student who have little better to do than camp outside Wall Street.

The business in question may have been a startup, and the owner, a budding entrepreneur -- fresh and perky from college and unwilling to become the office monkey that files pointless paperwork 9 to 5. This person believed the American market is the way to afford the yacht and Ferrari, and so begs for a visa to realize their dream.

The entrepreneur secures the patent. They rented a home, an office and manufacturing space. They then eventually hired workers for creation, distribution, marketing, sales, accounts, IT, PR and even took on a few interns to make the coffee and look pretty.

The device was enough of a success that the entrepreneur considered exporting the gadget worldwide, and therefore expanded their company, bought a new, expensive suit and offered more jobs to tempt the American population.

However, if the postgraduates or entrepreneur did not have the option of gaining permanent residency, the gadget may never have been developed, and the business may have never come into being -- or the events all took place in a different country.

One small idea can have incredible impact on an economy. Facebook, as an example, came out of a student's mind and is now a service used by nearly one billion people worldwide. This is not to say every accepted visa applicant will be the next Bill Gates, but if the potential to boost the economy does not exist, then financial stability and growth will bear the consequences -- therefore remaining sluggish or potentially declining instead.

Image credit: Stephen Saucier

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Topic: IT Employment

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8 comments
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  • Not Bad

    This seems like a good idea. Encouraging those from all over the world to come to the U.S.; it's a nation of immigrants, why not continue that? The U.S. may not be the best at everything, but when it comes to topping lists there exists no equal. This is due to the diversity of ideas, cultures, and people that live there.
    jetsethi
    • Not Bad

      How about getting the legal American Citizens employed first. It is claimed that they cannot find enough High Tech workers in US. That is not true. This is a scheme so that High Tech Companies can hire people, apy them much less than Americans, and earn mega bucks. They are tremendous amounts of Programmers, Website Developers, etc. in US that can't find jobs. There will always be unscrupulous people who will use anything or anybody and cheat and lie to feed their greed.
      Tech
      jonchavez
  • What does Germany do?

    They have basically come through these last four years remarkably unscathed. Why is America educating and employing the world's bright talent versus doing more to encourage out bright talent to consider STEM? How much better off would we be if our education system tracked students and thereby was able to better expand the base from which to education and recruit for these positions using American citizens? Again, look at Germany. My guess is that they do not have such a liberal education visa program, which means more Germans learn the skills that pay higher salaries once they graduate and are ready for the work force.
    jjworleyeoe
  • forgotten real heroes

    What about the bright I.T. people who's now currently on H1B visas who's been working their asses off helping US I.T. infrastructure big time but still have to endure a seemingly "endless wait" to be permanent residence of this great nation? H1B visa holders have to wait for several years or even decades and all the while have to spend thousands of dollars paying US immigration to be able to have a chance for an interview for a chance to have a permanent resident status. These people have already proven their worth, why would the govt. give more importance to students who just came out of universities?
    jason_sta_catalina@...
    • Forgotten real real heroes

      And what about the bright I.T. people who's now currently on citizenship? These people have already proven their worth, why would the govt. give more importance to students who just came out of universities or to H-1bs applying for GCs? It's because companies want as much talent as can be had at their fingertips. The government is just finding more politically palatible ways to provide them. They don't care any more about STEM grads than they do about proven GC applicants OR proven citizens.
      John80224
  • There is no STEM shortage

    You can repeat that myth as many times as you like, but it just isn't true. This "shortage" is driven by industry's political objective of increasing the H-1b visa cap.

    Ask yourself some very basic questions:

    If there is a shortage of STEM workers, why have STEM salaries been flat over the last decade? Is that how the law of supply and demand works when there is a shortage?

    If there is a shortage of STEM workers, why do only 28% of STEM workers surveyed report any form of training or professional development as a benefit last year? Wouldn't companies be rushing to train their employees to meet shortages?

    If there is a shortage of STEM workers, why do over half of students pursuing STEM degrees enter non-STEM related occupations?

    If there is a shortage, why is it that primarily industry funded "studies" make the claim, yet most independent and peer reviewed studies dispute such a thing?

    Now for the solution. IT workers would of course like more IT jobs. So why are so many IT workers opposed to something that they claim will create jobs? Is it because it won't create jobs?

    Why is the top objective always H-1b visas - with nary a mention of increasing funding corporate skills training?

    Why are to top sponsors of H-1b visas also offshore outsourcing firms? Does anyone really believe that they create American jobs? Don't answer that Charlie... Does anyone not drinking the corporate kool-aid and who hasn't had their Cato Institute frontal lobotomy procedure really believe that offshore outsourcing creates jobs?

    The shortage shouting doesn't pass the smell test. If we smell anything, it is the stench of lobbyists and industry groups making false claims. It smells like Cato.

    The final question is for Charlie Osborne. If you know anything about this issue it is that it is highly debatable. Yet you don't present the arguments and instead present the industry viewpoint as gospel. You use anecdotal stories to support something that will usually have a very different outcome.

    Charlie Osborne, why should I not call you a tool? If you were to critique your own work, don't you believe that is a fair description of what you are in this case?
    relawson@...
  • Proceed with caution or the Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions?

    The general concept is good. But let's look at the flip side. Microsoft who "can't" find anyone sets up a program to aid budding entrepreneurs. The program specializes in micro-consultancies. MS touts it's pushing entrepreneurs, fronts the capital and assists with visa paperwork. Meanwhile they downsize six of their staff to outsource their work to this company. The company consists of a stapled green card who hires two H-1bs, another GC and two of the now former MS employees. Instead of a net gain, we've got four lost good jobs replaced by four imported workers and a fabulous new "entrepreneur" who can show a 100k+ salary--25-40% of which he pays directly back to Microsoft for its investment.

    For every winning lottery ticket, there are 34 losers, and most winners are far less spectacular than the jackpot. For every Zuckerberg there are thousands of smart people just doing jobs. For every game-changing patent, there are thousands that tweak how the assembly line is configured.

    The point isn't that all immigration is bad. But it's not all sunshine and daisies, either. Employment based immigration has severely damaged some and there is very little to prevent abuse, enforce intent or even attract the "job creators". Instead, it's usually more about netting as many at least relatively bright, educated job fillers as can be found. Entrepreneurialism needs to be a focus, not a side effect. And the historically woeful ability to prevent damage to citizens needs to be overcome before this even begins to look as good as the happy path the article suggests.
    John80224
  • Every aspect of these visa programs is a fraud

    The H1B visa is NOT for highly skilled workers. The H1B visa exists to reduce labor costs for America's high tech firms by replacing well educated, highly trained US STEM workers with cheap entry level third world workers, primarily from India and Communist China. Yet shill stories like this one continue to pop up all over the media. Today's writers are mere public relations stooges for corporate America. They aren't reporters or investigators. They are stenographers, reporting what corporate America tells them to report.

    Look at the GAO report that was prepared for Congress in 2011. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1126.pdf

    On page 58 appears a chart, charting the competence levels of recipients of the H1B visa. It can be viewed here: http://techtalk.dice.com/t5/image/serverpage/image-id/918iBE2B98F5EE29FE1A/image-size/original?v=mpbl-1&px=-1

    There is no category of "highly skilled." The highest ranking category and closest category to highly skilled is "Fully Competent," arguably a lower standard than "highly skilled." Only 6.0% of these people were judged to be "Fully Competent." The remaining 94% were judged to be NOT "Fully Competent." Fifty four percent were judged to be "Entry Level."

    Yet this urban myth continues to be perpetuated by people like the author of this story, perpetuating the myth that these workers are highly skilled workers when indeed they are NOT highly skilled workers. They are replacement workers, replacing the best engineers, scientists, and mathematicians that the world has ever seen, US STEM workers.
    jjjxxx