I have always said that I try to avoid politics, but focus on policy. Policy that assures a bright future for American leadership in this century and beyond. And we can’t continue to lead if we can’t attract the best and brightest to our shores. To get growth, you need to support growth.
Today, the Obama Administration announced a significant step towards helping America attract and retain talented entrepreneurs from abroad. In a first-of-its-kind regulation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a draft International Entrepreneur Rule. With this rule, DHS now has clear criteria to identify, on a case-by-case basis, entrepreneurs who would provide significant public benefit to the U.S. This is based on factors including the entrepreneur’s ownership stake and leadership role; the growth of the potential startup; competitive research grants from government agencies; and investment by qualified American investors. The proposed rule would allow qualified entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. for an initial period of two years, with one additional three-year extension (contingent on meeting certain additional benchmarks).
The move by this Administration recognizes that our current immigration laws hinder America’s ability to compete for talent and undercut our ability to create jobs. Roughly one in four tech companies established between 2006 and 2012 had at least one foreign-born founder. Companies founded by immigrants include Google, Tesla and Yahoo and account for hundreds of thousands of jobs. Moreover, these companies represent innovations that changed our daily lives—products that made us healthier, tools that made us safer and technologies that made us better connected and more informed.
In my book The Third Wave, I explain that we are entering an era in which entrepreneurs will leverage technology to disrupt major “real world” sectors—transportation, energy, healthcare, education and food—and transform how we live and work. In this “third wave,” government will need to take entrepreneurs—and their potential to drive economic growth—seriously. Making it easier for entrepreneurs to stay here and pursue their startup dreams recognizes this need. And it does so at a time when global competition continues to take from America’s playbook and replicate the conditions necessary for a vibrant entrepreneurial environment. While other nations are luring engineers and other high tech talent, we are providing them with a top notch education and telling them to return home. Today’s rule levels the playing field and allows America to compete for the technology of tomorrow (and the jobs that come with it) on more equal footing.
America was a startup itself, founded some 250 years ago. Since then it has been an incubator, welcoming and benefiting from the ideas of immigrants and the sons and daughters of immigrants. Thanks to today’s rule, we can continue to do just that.