President Barack Obama wants to make it easier for foreign-born startup founders to stay in the U.S. after launching successful companies.

In a speech today discussing immigration policy, Obama said that the country needs “startup visas” for founders who raise a minimum level of financing and employ a certain number of people.

Obama noted how several “brilliant” students come to the U.S. to study in college but then have to go back home due to current immigration regulations. He wants those future stars to stay in the country and create jobs here.

There is a limited number of visas and green cards, and the costs associated with the visa process are expensive. This has resulted in a decline in the number of immigrant-founded startups.

Earlier today, a group of four senators introduced the Immigration Innovation Act, a bill that would increase the number of H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers and allow foreign graduates with “advanced technical degrees” from U.S. colleges to stay in the country.

This is an important issue for the growth of startups. Nearly one-quarter of the engineering and technology companies founded in the U.S. between 2006 and 2012 had at least one founder who was foreign-born.

You can watch the speech in full over at C-SPAN.

Previously on GeekWire: Twitter growth: 1.1 million Inauguration-related Tweets compared to just 82,392 in 2008

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  • DonMann

    While it is very nice that we still have the universities that produces competent graduates, There are a documented 76,000 PhD’s and Engineers in Silicon Valley that are out of work, it was a segment on 60 Minutes. So, while our dear leader wants to continue to promote foreigners, do not forget about the millions of American people that are out of work.. Americans first, then the foreigners.

    • Wolfgang

      Tech firms don’t even bother to interview the top talent that applies, unless they have some sort of inside connection.

  • twinsfan1100

    Remember the argument of these H-1B visas is that there is a shortage of US STEM workers? The fact of the matter is that there HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of unemployed, disenfranchised US STEM workers.

    Rarely are H-1B visas used to employ truly “highly skilled” workers. In 2011, the GAO reported that 94% of H-1B visa recipients are not even “Fully Competent.” The H-1B visa is being used to reduce labor costs so that Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Eric Schmidt can make more money, which is fine.

    If you want to use these visas to reduce labor costs, fine, but at least be honest. So that we can at least be honest with our future college grads so that we can let them know that earning a college degree is not on the pathway to the middle class. At least we will be able to be honest for FUTURE college grads. We are too late for RECENT college grads.

    Corporate America does not want to employ current college grads. Corporate America wants to employ cheap, entry level, third world workers.

  • twinsfan1100

    President Obama is more interested in rewarding successful politicians and the corporate benefactors of those successful politicians, namely himself and HIS corporate campaign contributors.

    President Obama, as a candidate, refused to accept Federal matching funds, and the limitations on corporate campaign contributions that the law required. By virtue of refusing to accept the corporate campaign limitations that the law required, candidate Obama was able to raise almost $2 billion from the likes of Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other tech companies who have made billions of dollars by displacing US workers with cheap labor here on H-1B visas, L-1 visas, OPT visas, B-1 visas that are being used illegally in broad daylight.

    The reason for the campaign contributions to candidate Obama is to protect and expand the fraud of these work visas. Now President Obama is fulfilling his pledge to his corporate campaign contributors and betraying US STEM workers all across America. If President Obama and his corrupt campaign contributors have their way, the ranks of disenfranchised US STEM workers is about to expand beyond the current HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of disenfranchised US STEM workers.

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