The Lewis Leeper Blog
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick unveiled a $100 million economic development proposal that includes a program to keep foreign-born entrepreneurs in the state. The goal of the “Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program” is to allow more high-skilled international students to stay in Massachusetts upon graduation if they are growing or starting a business.
H-1B Visas Needed
Currently, international students’ visas expire when they graduate. In order to stay in the U.S. they must find an employer willing to sponsor their H-1B visa application. However, there are only a limited number of H-1B visas available each year and the application process is challenging for emerging entrepreneurs. Gov. Patrick asserts the U.S., and specifically Massachusetts, is losing valuable talent when these students are educated here then go to other countries to launch their businesses.
Making the Process Easier
The Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program would make it easier for these graduating students to stay in Massachusetts, allowing the state to reap the rewards of their entrepreneurial spirit. These students would be allowed to secure an H-1B visa by working at a Massachusetts university or college. These institutions are exempt from the H-1B cap and can apply for visas throughout the year. An entrepreneur with a university sponsor is more likely to get approved for an H-1B visa. The program will cost an estimated $3 million of the $100 million economic development proposal. It would be administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which would place eligible students at public and private institutions.
The program will depend on the voluntary participation of universities and colleges. However, officials say many have already shown interest. Hallie Moran, head of visas and compliance at Hult International Business School, stated, “It’s no secret within the higher education community that international students and employees drive economic growth and innovation.” Aligning economic development with immigration law is a challenging and unique pairing. However, the Governor’s proposal is being met with positive reviews so far. According to Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, “Immigration is really curtailing entrepreneurship.” Most in academia are thrilled to see steps in this direction.
As this proposal works its way through the legislative process, immigration attorneys and students will be closely watching the outcome. If you have questions regarding an H-1B visa or another immigration issue, please contact our firm and speak with an experienced immigration attorney.
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