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article below posted May 16, 2010    Bookmark and Share

Why US Immigration Policy Needs Tweaking

by Bill Costello

In a recent issue of BusinessWeek, Michelle Conlin writes that the percentage of top MBAs from US universities who are taking jobs in Asia has more than doubled since 2005. It’s now over ten percent of the graduating class.

What’s luring them to the East? More opportunities to make an impact, work in an emerging market, develop a global skill set, and earn international exposure.

Asian companies are now actively recruiting many of the top MBAs, beating out American companies.

It’s not only the pool of Western talent that’s being drained from the US. International students are also increasingly choosing to return to their home countries to work and start new businesses. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that over 40 percent of non-US doctoral degree recipients intended to leave the US.

Even highly educated and skilled immigrants who have lived and worked in the US for years are returning home. In China, these returnees are called hai gui, which means sea turtle, because sea turtles return to their place of birth after having migrated elsewhere.

It seems the American Dream is no longer confined to the borders of America. Opportunity now abounds globally, especially in Asia.

In order for the US to maintain its competitive edge in the global economy, it needs to focus on attracting skilled professionals.

One of the best ways to do this is by allowing more skilled immigrants to become permanent residents. The US needs to attract immigrants who are highly educated and have much to contribute to US innovation, job growth, and economic growth.

While immigrants represent only 12 percent of the US population, their economic and intellectual contributions have been significant. They’ve started more than half of the technology companies in Silicon Valley and contributed to over one quarter of US-originated international patents.

Offering skilled immigrants permanent residence instead of temporary visas will increase the number who come to the US, the number who stay, and the number who start new businesses that create jobs for Americans.

US Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) recently proposed the StartUp Visa Act, which would provide incentive for immigrant entrepreneurs to create jobs in the US. If passed, the act would create a two-year visa for any immigrant entrepreneur who can secure at least $250,000 from US investors. At the end of the two years, an immigrant can become a legal resident if his or her business has created at least five full-time jobs in the US, attracted an additional $1 million in investment capital, or achieved $1 million in revenue.

The StartUp Visa Act is a step in the right direction. It will help keep innovation and jobs in the US. These jobs can’t be outsourced or shipped overseas.

Immigrants who can create jobs for Americans and help build the US economy deserve permanent US residency.

Bill Costello, M.Ed., is a US-based education columnist, blogger, and author of "Awaken Your Birdbrain: Using Creativity to Get What You Want." He can be reached at www.makingmindsmatter.com.

cartoon by David Logan




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Comments (1)

Please keep comments polite and related to the above page.



#1 - George H. - 05/16/2010 - 20:53
Good points in this article. There's actually a sort of "brain drain" going AWAY from this country now. But shouldn't we first just try to keep our talented Americans, rather than see them go off to work in Asia?

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