Immigration policy for recent grad school grads

I made reference to the issue of immigration policy in a post last week (see “Want more jobs? Support Entrepreneurship”). In that post I referenced a WSJ OpEd piece that my partner Brad Feld wrote last week with Paul Kedrosky about the Start-up Visa Movement (the idea that we should make it easier for foreign born entrepreneurs who are starting their companies and who have obtained financing to stay in the United States to build their businesses). In my post I went on to say:

But let’s take this idea further. For example, how could it possibly make sense to deport a recent graduate school graduate (someone with the kind of technical degree that we so badly need here in the US and who received significant federal and state subsidies to study here)? We should be doing everything we can to keep smart, educated, motivated immigrants here – we want them contributing to our society and to our economy.

Susan Hockfield has a great OpEd piece in this morning’s Journal on this exact topic that is well wroth reading. Here’s my favorite quote from the article to give you the flavor but please click through and read the whole thing.

Our immigration laws specifically require that students return to their home countries after earning their degrees and then apply for a visa if they want to return and work in the U.S. It would be hard to invent a policy more counterproductive to our national interest.


  • Martin Holi

    Susan Hockfield is keen to attract potential Nobel Prize winners and other high potential scientist. You are demanding easier entries for entrepreneurs.
    Other countries need foreign doctors, teachers and nurses. If all wealthy countries would enter into a competition to attract the better educated and trained foreigners, the impact on countries at the end of the row would be disastrous.
    For example Paul Collier provides in his book “The Bottom Million” clear examples why we should be very careful with demanding these policies.
    Educating talented foreign people in our universities is an important part of development aid.
    Let’s get the balance right.

    • sethlevine

      we don’t force anyone to stay here after getting their education in the US. i’m simply suggesting that we not force them to leave. i’m a huge believer in entrepreneurship as development aid and the world is full of compelling examples of people helping their “home country” both by working here in the states and amassing wealth which they use for good back home and/or going back home and directly helping their native countries. the “balance” should be a market balance, not an artificial one imposed by the government…

  • Vivek Chandrasekhar

    Wow kudos to all your efforts to get the Startup Visa going , Seth. After attending graduate school in the US, I struggled for 3 years to figure out how to get a Visa to get my startup going. And when all the doors were shut, I had to relocate to Singapore and relaunch the startup. But I sure think the US offers the greatest odds of succes, if only there was some provision that would allow foreign grads to stay and do startups. But I fully agree with the critics since the H1B visa has been thoroughly abused and its only natural for people to feel insecure. But I am sure good old America will figure things out eventually.

    • sethlevine

      in my opinion anyone who gets a graduate degree here in the states should automatically get a work visa (or even a green card). we’re driving all the good people away…

  • Vivek Chandrasekhar

    Appreciate your tolerance and efforts in pushing this program Seth .I have applied for Canandian residence with the hope to do my startup in the US – hope to get in there soon. On one side, there is this burning desire to be in the US and start the venture while at the same time I can also relate to why some people may be frustrated due to the high number of job losses. But USA is still the land of promises – if only the negative commentators would stop barking.