bizEDGE NZ - Obama backs foreign-born start-up visas

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Obama backs foreign-born start-up visas

President Barack Obama has backed calls for a special visa category aimed at encouraging foreign-born tech entrepreneurs to launch companies across America.

Asking Congress to get the ball rolling, Obama emphasised the need for "start-up visas" in the country, in an address on immigration policy in Las Vegas this week.

The first visa initiative offers green cards to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates, allowing the individuals to hold advanced masters or doctorate degrees from America universities.

The second is aimed at foreign entrepreneurs who have venture capital from U.S. investors or an existing business with over $100k sales - Obama plans to offer this group entrepreneur visas who could eventually lead to a green card.

"Right now there are brilliant students from all around the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities," Obama said.

"They are earning degrees in the fields of the future like engineering and computer science.

"But once they finish school, once they earn that diploma, there's a good chance they'll have to leave our country."

Obama referred to Brazilian tech expert Michel Krieger, who studied in the U.S. and stayed after graduating, eventually co-founding photo-sharing site Instagram.

Such examples back Obama's claims that the country are losing entrepreneurs in the technology industry, as many foreigners are forced to start business overseas.

"Right now in one of those classrooms there are students wresting with how to turn their big idea -- their Intel or Instagram -- into a big business," Obama said.

"We're giving them all the skills they need to figure that out, but then we're going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in India or China or Mexico or someplace else.

"That's not how you grow new industries in America. That's how you give new industries to our competitors."

Obama received praise for the speech, with many believing such visas will actually help create more jobs for America citizens, as opposed to giving them to foreign-born visitors.

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