New Common-Sense Immigration Reforms to Strengthen Our Economy

President Obama recently reaffirmed the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system, so that America can compete and win in the 21st century.  Immigrants make extraordinary contributions to our economic well-being, as demonstrated in study after study. For evidence, you can turn to recent analyses from the Treasury Department, the bipartisan Partnership for a New American Economy, or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Or simply visit Silicon Valley.  Aneesh participated in a roundtable yesterday hosted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group where nearly half of the executives in the room were immigrants. They were unanimous in their call for action in the high skilled area -- a top priority for the group, along with a new service campaign to connect the  best and brightest in the Valley with  kids in need.  But they were also frustrated with our inability as a country to tackle these issues as it has been several years since they began such conversations.

Aneesh did review the White House's Blueprint for Building a 21st Century Immigration System, reinforcing what they already knew -- that our economic competitiveness would be strengthened by a legal immigration system that reflects our values and meets our diverse needs.  As a part of comprehensive reform, the President supports legislation that would create a Startup Visa for job-creating entrepreneurs; “staple” a green card to the diplomas of talented graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields; strengthen visa programs for both high-skill workers and agricultural workers; and ensure that the best and brightest young people who were brought to the U.S. as minors can earn citizenship through higher education or military service.

As Aneesh recently wrote, the Administration is already taking steps to achieve this positive economic impact.  As of May 12, a significantly expanded pool of STEM graduates will qualify for an extra 17 months of optional practical training (OPT).  This means that talented young people educated here in the U.S. will have more time to contribute to our economy through work training or starting a new business.

Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced more good news for job creation and economic growth:  a new proposal to streamline the EB-5 visa process, designed for immigrant investors and entrepreneurs who create at least 10 U.S. jobs.  Applicants can expect accelerated processing times, direct communication with specialized intake teams, and decision boards with considerable expertise.

Stay tuned for more positive developments as the Obama Administration listens to your feedback and pursues an immigration system that meets our shared 21st century economic needs.  And please join the conversation by hosting a roundtable of your own.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Alejandro Mayorkas is Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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