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    Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Former Senator Mark Udall

    Posted on 2013-01-30

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    UDALL of Colorado (for himself, Mr. Flake, Mrs. Gillibrand, and Mr. Warner): S. 189. A bill to establish an employment-based immigrant visa for alien entrepreneurs who have received significant capital from investors to establish a business in the United States; to the Committee on the Judiciary.



    Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, it is with great pleasure that I, along with Mr. Flake of Arizona, reintroduce the Startup Visa Act. The Startup Visa Act of 2013 allows immigrant entrepreneurs and foreign graduates of U.S. universities to appeal for a two-year visa on the condition that they secure financing from a qualified U.S. investor and can demonstrate the ability to create jobs in America.

    If they are successful in developing their company and hiring American workers, they would be eligible for legal permanent residency and would be free to continue building their companies, creating more home-grown jobs [[Page S406]] and continuing our legacy of unmatched innovation and entrepreneurship.

    The United States has a proud history of providing entrepreneurs from around the world the freedom and resources to turn an idea into a successful venture. Well-known U.S. companies such as Google, Yahoo, Intel, Pfizer and eBay all began as startups that were founded by immigrants. These businesses have grown into multibillion-dollar industry leaders that provide thousands of Americans with high-paying jobs in cutting-edge fields.

    The number of jobs offered by startups is dropping off. While this is partly due to the economic downturn it is also because of our Nation's broken immigration system. Many of the world's best and brightest minds are finding that our current visa restrictions discourage them from launching new companies here. This is a major competitive disadvantage, and one that runs counter to our Nation's history of fostering foreign- born innovators, such as Albert Einstein or Andrew Carnegie.

    More worrisome is that while we try to work out a solution to our broken immigration laws, our foreign competitors are catching up and, in some cases, passing us by in many of the fields we once dominated. In 2009, for the first time in recent memory, foreign innovators were awarded more patents than Americans pioneers. Only a decade earlier, U.S.-based entrepreneurs were awarded almost 57 percent of all patents worldwide. We must work quickly and in a bipartisan manner to reverse this trend. The Startup Visa Act of 2013 is a strong and simple step that will reward foreign innovators, pioneers and entrepreneurs for creating jobs in America. Put simply, this legislation will help protect America's position as the global leader in innovation.

    We do not have to look far for evidence that our broken immigration system is hurting our economy. We only need to look at our Canadian neighbors. The Canadian founders of Vanilla Forums, an innovative and fast-growing company, whose products are used by websites around the world to host online forum discussions, spent a summer in my home State of Colorado participating in a mentorship program with U.S.-based entrepreneurs and investors. Despite the numerous investors who were interested in funding Vanilla Forums and developing the company in Colorado, concerns about the founders' ability to obtain visas won out. As a result, Vanilla Forums is a successful company that is hiring employees at its headquarters in Montreal, Quebec.

    America has tremendous untapped potential for innovation and it is our responsibility to give our Nation every opportunity to remain globally competitive. By passing the Startup Visa Act of 2013 we can create high paying jobs here in the United States, and help ensure that the next globally transformative company is based in America. This legislation is bipartisan and fiscally responsible; it will spur private investment and it will help put our economy back on track. I ask my colleagues to join me in support of this important legislation.

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