Immigration Laws Still Need Fixing for Entrepreneurs

Most of the talk surrounding immigration reform in the U.S. these days is coming from my home state of Arizona where controversial laws like Senate Bill 1070 have the nation divided. For entrepreneurs, there are other laws – mainly those surrounding work visas and green card acquisition – that are in dire need of reform if the nation is going to rebound on the back of innovation. Thursday night, the tech community was again reminded of this need when Robert Scoble posted a blog and video interview with a pair of foreign-born entrepreneurs who shared their varying but equally troubling stories of immigration.


The first is Aye Moah, a native of Burma – one of the poorest nations in the world – who found herself accepted to MIT within nine months of just learning that the institute existed. Though she is one of the smartest students from her country and despite nailing a perfect score on the SAT, her chances at employment in the U.S. are slim due to the current state of our immigration laws.

“Even if she were to get a work visa, it probably would be from a bigger company that would treat her poorly (I keep hearing stories of how immigrants are treated like crap and can’t leave, otherwise their work visa will be yanked). These laws are unjust and not American,” writes Scoble in a passionate post from Thursday night. “Worse yet they are anti innovation because it’s these smart, highly educated, people who will start the next companies.”

moahmannak_jul10.jpgThe other interviewee is Ronald Mannak, a living example of just why so many foreign entrepreneurs want to come to America. According to Mannak, Dutch laws have left him responsible for repaying $200,000 he received in venture funding for a startup that went under. Though there is some argument in the comments below Scoble’s blog regarding these laws, Mannak’s financial law example is one of the prime reasons entrepreneurs want to set up shop here.

As we have mentioned before on ReadWriteStart, the Startup Visa movement has been lobbying law makers in Washington to open the nation’s doors to entrepreneurs. We first wrote about the potential benefits of the bill in December of last year, and this year updated you when the bill was officially introduced by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar.

The stories highlighted by Scoble Thursday night are just a few of the numerous examples of both the need and demand for this type of immigration reform. More entrepreneurs means more companies which means more jobs for Americans. While Moah and Mannak may be a pair of fringe examples that coincidentally wound up infront of Robert Scoble’s camera, their stories still shed light on how America is shooting itself in the foot on growing entrepreneurship.


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