Foreign Workers OK in Silicon Valley

Tech-savvy immigrants who may be having trouble attaining their permanent resident card or work visa may have an easier time in the near future.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced on February 22 that he wants to keep as many high-tech entrepreneurs in the United States as possible. However, with current legislation greatly limiting any promising foreign-born individuals from coming to the United States, Mayorkas also launched a summit for his new “Entrepreneurs in Residence” program.

The program’s largest goal is to find unique ways for immigration services to become more responsive to the ever-changing needs of the technology industry. Mayorkas hopes to begin the process by choosing five applicants within the private sector of the tech world to create the new policies, and then train immigration officials in the policies so that they can employ these options in their immigration decisions.

Mayorkas believes this unconventional model will work best for the industry’s large number of startup companies, which are often created in unique ways themselves.

Duke University researcher Vivek Wadhwa told Bloomberg Businessweek that he supports the venture, remarking that “Silicon Valley is bleeding right now,” due to the United States’ stringent immigration rules.

“These people have spent time in Silicon Valley,” he said to Bloomberg, referencing the number of federal officials who have met with tech industry leaders. “Almost every CEO here has been ripping into them. They really get it now.”

Wadhwa hopes that the new rules will allow startups to sponsor the visas of their founders, something that current immigration laws do not.