By Kim Hart - 03/05/10 03:00 PM EST
Legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the Start-Up Visa Act, would grant immigrant entrepreneurs a two-year visa if they have the support of a qualified U.S. investor for their startup venture.
The bill has received plaudits from the technology community, which has long complained that there are not enough visas for skilled immigrants. Many of the most successful tech companies were founded by immigrants, such as Intel, eBay, Yahoo and Google.
The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) estimates that half of current venture-backed companies were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs.
"Venture-backed companies employ millions of Americans, and many of them would not be here today were it not for the immigrant entrepreneur who founded them," said Mark Heesen, president of NVCA. "This bill will help to ensure that the best and brightest innovate and grow their companies in the United States."
An entrepreneur who created a successful Facebook application stars in a video Kerry's office is sending around to members (below).
“More than 1 million developers and entrepreneurs from at least 180 countries have built on Facebook’s open platform," said Tim Sparapani, Facebook's director of public policy. "This rapid growth is a testament to the importance of attracting creative thinkers who have fresh ideas about how Facebook and other forward-thinking companies can facilitate extraordinary new services that improve our society, drive economic growth and create jobs.”
Compete America, a coalition of corporations, educators and research institutions, said supporting immigrant entrepreneurs will lead to more job creation and help the country's economic recovery.