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US could create 8.8m jobs by boosting immigration

The US could create 8.8m new jobs by issuing 100,000 green cards to graduates says Peter Cohan, a management consultant, author and lecturer.

Mr Cohan was writing in Forbes magazine. He cites research from the Kaufman Foundation which suggests that highly skilled immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial than native born Americans. 25.3% of technology and engineering start-ups between 1995 and 2005 had at least one immigrant as a founder. These companies had sales of US$52bn and employed 450,000 workers in 2005.

Mr Cohan says that most jobs are created in what he calls 'gazelle firms'. These are 'young, fast growing firms' between three and five years old. They 'account for 1% of all companies but create 10% of the new jobs each year.' Mr Cohan says that 'the typical gazelle firm adds 88 jobs a year – 44 times the average firm - and ends up with between 20 and 249 employees'.

Better still, these companies tend to do well even when the general economy is in trouble.

Mr Cohan says that the Kaufman Foundation recommends the passing of the Startup Visa Act to help the US economy to create more jobs. This act was voted down by the US Congress in 2010 but would have allowed immigrants able to raise US$250,000 investment in a startup company to apply for US visas.

If this could not be done, Mr Cohan says that the existing EB-5 visa program could be expanded. Under the EB-5 visa program, foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 and create ten jobs or more in the US can apply for a US permanent resident visa or green card.

Mr Cohan says that Kaufman Foundation statistics suggest that granting 100,000 more visas to highly skilled graduates with degrees in the STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and mathematics, would create 8.8m jobs if each started a company. (100,000 new companies x 88/jobs/company')

Mr Cohan congratulates Andre Mayorkas, the head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for setting up the Entrepreneur Pathways website which is designed to help young foreign-born entrepreneurs to find a way to immigrate to the US. But Mr Cohan says 'it would be even better to pass the Startup Visa Act because it would let proven entrepreneurs start their businesses here instead of taking them outside the country where others get the benefit of the training [they] received in the United States'.

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