Over the years, immigrants have made significant and life-changing contributions to the American economic system. Some are household names, such as Nordstrom, Bose, and Levi’s. Moderna, SpaceX, Zoom, and SpaceX are some other examples of contemporary success stories.
Yet, for every successful immigrant to this country who gets a win, many more never get it because they don’t have the visa. U.S. immigration laws date back to 1950 when the current system was developed. They are not up-to-date with modern business practices and the changing world. The alphabet soup visa system was not created more than 30 years ago in the 1990s. While technology and globalization have changed the world, many entrepreneurs still want to live in the United States.
Although there have been too many attempts to reform and update the immigration laws of this country over the years, we still come up short. We have a moment of momentum and a window for an opportunity that we can profit from. You will need to get support from all sides, especially if your founder is an immigrant. You’re voice matters if you’re a member of the startup community. There are three ways to rise your voice heard.
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1. Join an advocacy group
Some organizations only focus on policy matters. They gather data, substantive research issues, and create reports. They are particularly interested in startup issues and the immigration policies related to them. These include the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAME), Engine, FWD.us, and The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). Meet them, join their ranks, lend your support, attend their meetings, and help when opportunities present themselves. You will find more like-minded people, and your network will expand.
2. Would you mind sharing your stories?
It is not easy to be vulnerable, specially if you face a difficult path, such as one that has been blocked by funding, immigration, or simply because of life. Sharing your story can effectively humanize complicated issues, even though your audience may not have any stake in the outcome. Share your stories with organizations that support the cause, such as those mentioned above, reputable news media, and even your peers. It allows you to highlight complex issues so others can learn and advocate change.
3. Learn about yourself
You can learn more by doing. Learn about the different options available and why they might not be suitable for entrepreneurs today if you have had firsthand experience with a specific immigration issue. You might be a policymaker looking to understand the real-life impact of our flawed immigration laws. Learn how to share and advocate better.
Advocacy is a team sport. It is essential to unite, especially when you have significant problems to solve. While the Biden administration recently revived the International Entrepreneur Rule, a pathway for entrepreneurs to prove that their companies would be of substantial public benefit to the U.S., it is not a long-term fix. Congress would approve a Startup Visa to allow international founders to establish businesses in the U.S., and the economy will grow and prosper.