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Missourian: For high-skilled immigrants, policy shifts complicate path to entrepreneurship

Sitting in his company’s 6,000-square-foot facility in an industrial part of northeast Columbia, Hao Li, the chief executive officer of Nanova Biomaterials, recounted his journey to becoming an entrepreneur. Li, who grew up in China, said he always knew he wanted to start a business and make products to help people. But he had no idea that would bring him to mid-Missouri.

When Li moved to the United States in 1999 to enroll in a doctoral program in New Jersey, he was seeking the vast opportunities in science and technology that the U.S. offered.

Almost two decades later, Li is an engineering professor at MU and the co-founder of Nanova, which applies nanotechnology research to the manufacturing and distribution of dental and medical products.

However, for high-skilled foreign entrepreneurs like Li, the process surrounding visas and green cards is not always straightforward. Currently, the U.S. has only limited visas for immigrants looking to start businesses, and those usually require immigrants to make substantial capital investment or have past experience running companies.

The lack of visa options means foreign entrepreneurs often do not have a clear path to start their businesses in the U.S., according to Matthew La Corte of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian public policy think tank in Washington.

Read the full story from The Missourian: “For high-skilled immigrants, policy shifts complicate path to entrepreneurship

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