Highly-Skilled Immigration Bills Introduced

February 27, 2013

pic-tech-worldSince the beginning of the 113th Congress, several highly-skilled immigration bills have been introduced (or reintroduced) that warrant mention. The below-mentioned bills seek to address a number of issues facing our economy, including two of the most important: job creation and new business formation.  

On Jan. 29, 2013, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Immigration Innovation Act (or I-Squared Act) of 2013 (S. 169). This bill includes language to increase the H-1B visa cap from 65,000 to 115,000, expand access to immigrant visas and green cards for foreign-born students graduating from an American university with an advanced degree in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, and eliminate the annual per-country limits for employment-based visa petitions.

The following day, Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jeff Flake (R-Arz.) reintroduced the Startup Visa Act of 2013 (S. 189), which would establish a new visa category for immigrant entrepreneurs who meet certain capital and employment-related conditions. The Startup Visa Act was originally introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) back in 2010.

And, earlier this month, Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced the NSBA-supported Startup Act 3.0 (S. 310), which is essentially the same bill as introduced last Congress but with a few minor revisions to expand eligibility for immigrant entrepreneur visas and the R&D tax credit for startups. The Startup Act provides for a more comprehensive approach by including provisions to address not only highly-skilled immigration reform, but also economic development and regulatory reform. Specifically, in addition to creating two new visa categories for highly-skilled students and entrepreneurs, this bill also eliminates the numerical limit on employment-based visas, requires a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of all proposed federal rules with an economic impact of $100 million or more, and creates a research tax credit for startups, among other economically beneficial provisions.

Attracting and retaining highly-skilled immigrant workers and entrepreneurs is crucial to the long-term economic success of the small business community, and NSBA looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration to ensure that any legislation addresses the unique needs and limitations of America’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.