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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 08/04/2011

Goodbye debt ceiling debate, hello startup visas


The White House is seen in the morning light. (Ron Edmonds - ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Read Vivek Wadhwa’s latest column on the recent clarification of the visa application guidelines, and why he believes it’s a good first step, but doesn’t go far enough.

The debt ceiling has been raised, stopping the Four Horsemen of the Economic Apocalypse in their tracks — for now.

So, what’s next?

For the Obama White House, it’s jobs, jobs and more jobs. In an effort to forward that message, the White House has launched a new online series highlighting entrepreneurs. The administration is publishing blog posts by business founders, giving them an opportunity to chronicle their path to company ownership.

The first entry is from “serial entrepreneur” Manu Kumar. An immigrant who acquired an EB-1 green card under the “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” category, Kumar founded the venture capital fund K9 Ventures and is the co-founder of the visa-reform advocacy Web site StartupVisa.com, among other companies.

Kumar’s testimonial is as much personal narrative as it is a call to action — a clear attempt by the White House to drum up support for visa reform as a means to bolster the nation’s struggling economy. The push is coming at a time when, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, Americans’ dissatisfaction with the president‘s economic policy is growing and their confidence in his ability to create jobs is eroding.

“What has worked for the United States for so long is that the smartest people from all over the world gravitate towards this country,” Kumar writes. “Some, like me, come to the United States to receive higher education and advanced degrees. I strongly believe that the best thing the United States can do to attract and retain the smartest people from all over the world is to encourage these people to start their companies right here.”

In his testimonial, Kumar points out the recent clarification by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) of the guidelines governing the H1-B and EB-2 visa application processes. The clarifications do not change existing law — they merely highlight ways in which the application processes could be made easier for petitioners under existing law. USCIS also made changes to streamline the EB-5 immigrant investor program as well.

Given the administration’s strained relationship with the Republican-controlled House and the narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, it is not likely that visa reform — to say nothing of comprehensive immigration reform — will see congressional action anytime soon. In his latest column, The Post’s Vivek Wadhwa writes that the visa regulation clarification announcement is merely a step in the right direction, not the full-blown change visa reform advocates are looking for:

For my part, I believe this is a well-intentioned effort and is a good first step. We could easily see thousands of start-ups generating tens of thousands of jobs in the next couple of years if these changes are enacted in the spirit that they were intended.

It’s no surprise that supporters of visa reform will not be 100 percent satisfied with USCIS’s clarifications but, in the current political climate and presidential campaign, they are not likely to get much beyond more blog posts and clarifications.

Read more on innovation:

Wadhwa | On immigration, a step in the right direction

A call for political hackers

Innovations in the fight against famine

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 08/04/2011

Categories:  Business, Entrepreneurship, Morning Read

 
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