I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned by any of the journalists on Tumblr. Michael Bloomberg spoke yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. Here is a summary of his remarks from mikebloomberg.com:
The Mayor proposed green cards for graduates with advanced degrees in essential fields; a new visa for entrepreneurs with investors ready to invest capital in their job-creating idea; more temporary and permanent visas for highly skilled workers; guest-worker programs to ensure agriculture and other key sectors can thrive; and a revaluation of visa priorities that places a focus on the nation’s economic needs.
And some choice quotes:
This morning, our Partnership for a New American Economy released a report that looks at the impact of immigrants on one major section of the American economy: Fortune 500 companies. The report finds that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant – or by a child of immigrants. These immigrant-rooted companies employ more than 10 million people worldwide, which is a population larger than 43 states have. And they generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion.
And those are just the Fortune 500 companies. When you look at the economy as a whole, immigrants and their children have been responsible for creating millions more jobs in all 50 states. The reason is simple: immigrants are dreamers and risk-takers who are driven to succeed, because they know that in America, hard work and talent are rewarded like nowhere else.
Immigrants helped found Google, Yahoo, eBay, Intel, and so many more companies. In fact, immigrants helped found one-quarter of all high-tech companies over a 10-year period. And across all industries, they are twice as likely as native-born Americans to start companies. We need more of these dynamic entrepreneurs – and if we do not open our doors to them, they will go elsewhere. And the good-paying jobs they create will go with them.
I wholeheartedly agree with his proposals. As an immigrant myself, and as a friend of other immigrants, I have firsthand knowledge of the arduous journey to the green card. After they graduate, foreign students are granted one year of “practical training” in the US, with the caveat that the job they apply for must be related to their degree. But before you can start working, you have to wait for your EAD card, which, in my case, took about 2 months to arrive.
In order to continue working past the practical training period, you must find an employer willing to hire you full-time and spend thousands of dollars to sponsor you for the H-1B visa. In order to get approved for the H-1B, your employer has to affirm that you’re not replacing a US citizen who’s equally qualified to perform your job. Not only that, but you have to compete with the thousands of others who are vying for a visa. Congress currently limits the number of H-1Bs that are issued every year to 65,000 (with some exemptions). In April 2007, it took less than 24 hours for the quota to be reached, which shows you how ridiculously low the limit is. A few days prior to that, the WSJ published an article anticipating the deluge of applications, and explained the impact:
Congress is under pressure from employers’ groups to vastly expand the number of visas available each year, and is generally in favor of the idea. Employers say there aren’t enough visas to meet their needs, even though the visas are renewable, and Congress added 20,000 visas this year for foreigners who have at least a master’s degree from a U.S. college. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates testified on behalf of the program on Capitol Hill, warning of dangers to the economy if employers can’t import skilled workers to fill job gaps.
Yet, four years later, things still haven’t changed.
Once you’ve jumped over the H-1B hurdle, if you want to apply for a green card, you have to ask your employer to sponsor you, but there are strings attached. In my case, I had to wait a full year before I could start the process. Once the application is filed, you cannot change jobs, so if you don’t have a fulfilling position, you might end up miserable for years before you get your green card. Luckily, I worked for a great company and got my green card within 2 years. Ten years later, I’m still working there, and I’m now a US citizen.
In all, my path to naturalization took 16 years, which you can visualize in this informative flowchart created by the Reason Foundation.