Immigration vs Innovation

Immigration

The United States is one of the leading countries in technology innovation. Every day businesses all over the states think up new and creative was to tackle some of the world’s most difficult business challenges. Whether it’s inventing new platforms, creating more effective marketing strategies or developing mobile apps that are designed to make life easier, the U.S. is always looking to improve things. However, the current immigration laws have many worried that if things don't change for the better, innovation will inevitably suffer.   

How Current Immigration Laws are Proving Problematic to Innovation

When H1-B visas were plentiful, the U.S. economy was on a steady incline. At the time, no one thought that the reason for this incline was related to the foreign workers. The truth is, foreign workers holding H1-B visas are responsible for creating more jobs for Americans. Critics believe that the influx of foreign workers are hurting the economy by minimizing job opportunities for U.S. citizens; however, there is much proof to the contrary.

The majority of American college graduates major in Liberal Arts, whereas technology and math skills are what’s needed to fuel technology; which foreign workers have.  According to Hamilton Place Strategies, 40% of founding roles in fortune 500 companies were created by highly skilled foreign workers and their children. 

So what results from the current visa cap? A loss of jobs and a loss of newly created positions, which will in turn hurt the economy and decrease U.S. technological innovation.  See below for a look at how the visa caps have trended over the last 30 years.

Transient

How Technology Companies Plan to Tackle the Issue

Technology companies in the U.S. are aware of the impact that the visa cap will have and have thus begun creating strategies to circumvent the current immigration limitations.

Some businesses have resorted to hiring foreign workers as “freelancers” working from home offices, while others have even more creative solutions. A company called Blueseed has decided to create a mobile office in the form of a ship to spark innovation. This ship will house a thousand of the most highly skilled innovators from several different countries and will be docked approximately 12 nautical miles from San Francisco (where the water is still considered “international”). This is meant to spark new ideas and create new start-ups that will eventually expand and inevitably end up in the United States.  For more info on Blueseed check out this great slideshare http://slidesha.re/12It42j.

As businesses begin to realize the real economic implications of the visa cap, multiple solutions will no doubt follow. This is needed to obtain the skills these foreign worker possess while offering them resources to continue creating more U.S. jobs.

Being the first person in my family born in the US, makes this a particularly important topic for me and I would love to hear everyone else's thoughts and what other tactics you are seeing companies employ to get around the current immigration roadblocks.