President Obama took executive action last November to further ease policies around skilled tech labor. However, our laws haven’t done much to help the foreign startup founders who create quite a few tech jobs here.
A 2008 Kaufman Foundation study concluded that between 1995 and 2005, more than half of all Silicon Valley tech companies were created by immigrant founders, employing 560,000 workers and generating $63 billion in sales.
But something changed in 2006. There was a commonly estimated 12 million illegals living in America at the time. New reforms that were supposed to make it easier for immigrants who’d been here a while to obtain worker visas seemed to be making it harder for those with startups.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 allowed those who’d been in the country for 2-5 years to stay, but would required them to return to their country of origin after 3 years. Meanwhile, those who’d been here less than 2 years would have to leave.
Vivek Wadwha suggested in his book ‘The Immigrant Exodus’ that the changes to U.S. immigration policy was causing a brain drain in Silicon Valley.