May 21st, 2012
05:01 PM GMT
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Editor’s note: The Millennials are a generation that are constantly plugged in and moving fast to make their mark on the world. CNN’s Quest Means Business is tracking four of them. Here, CNN contributor and Millennial David Lloyd – who in this week's episode is in the running for an innovation award - asks if foreign entrepreneurs are friend or foe.

(CNN) – There is a new talent war and it is global. But the battle to attract foreign entrepreneurs has put the differences between some countries under the microscope.

In the U.S., PayPal founder Peter Thiel is backing the construction of a ship which will host foreign entrepreneurs off California’s coast. This will keep them beyond the reach of America’s draconian immigration stance towards foreign wealth-creators.

In Chile, by contrast, government program Start-up Chile awards $40,000 and residency visas to high-potential global start-ups. No equity is ceded and the only requirement is that one member of the team must live in Chile for six months. The start-up business is free to leave the country afterwards, but the reality is most stay on. They create jobs, mixing with local entrepreneurs, share ideas and propel economic growth.

My company Intern Latin America are just one of the many who have stayed and set up headquarters, inspired by the creative atmosphere and international exchange of ideas, against the backdrop of a welcoming government.

Meanwhile, the current stance of the U.S. leaves it at risk of losing out on top foreign talent. Facebook have just gone public at a valuation of more than $100 billion but its co-founder is Brazilian - talent knows no borders.

Economic growth, especially in the developed world, is under threat. Forward-thinking governments recognise that entrepreneurship is a key route to prosperity and growth.

Canada understands this, with its Immigration Minister Jason Kenney noting the country needs to “proactively target a new type of immigrant entrepreneur, who has the potential to build innovative companies that can compete on a global scale."

Meanwhile in the UK, the government constantly hails Google-supported Tech City in East London as evidence that Europe’s largest capital is to become a start-up utopia. In this spirit, Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly promised to lay out the “red carpet” for foreign entrepreneurs.

While Silicon Valley and increasing numbers within the U.S. political establishment support their own start-up visa initiatives, Congress in the world’s largest economy has so far failed to act, bogged down in gridlock.

Let’s cross our fingers that the U.S. can put into action the recent strides made in the right direction, and pass the legislation necessary to enable more talented migration to the land founded by immigrants.

With the global economy so dire, it could be just the catalyst and inspiration we all need.

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Ode To Capitalism

    Reblogged this on Ode To Capitalism.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  2. Kyle H. Davis

    "America’s draconian immigration stance towards foreign wealth-creators." Huh? While you may throw out "in contrast" or "meanwhile" and tack on a description of what other nations are doing, you have yet to give anything as an example of US policy, other than to claim it is draconian. Seems a little one-sided.

    Give me an example of these talented entrepreneurs that have a need to stay on a boat because they cannot get visas. Please... I'm begging you.

    From 1970 – 2005, 20% of all venture-funded public companies were started by immigrants.
    Currently 50% of the top 50 venture-funded public companies were started by immigrants.

    Claiming that the US will lose out on 'top foreign talent', is a misnomer when you are speaking of 'startups' (That's the difference between actual and expected.)

    There is no immigration stance against foreign talent, to the contrary. But the open door policy on citizenship does tend to put 'unrealized talent' on the back burner. Everyone who applies for a visa and wishes to come to the US is an entrepreneur in their own way.

    Visas are given out every day for everything from Wang Li's little cousin coming over to help out in the family restaurant, to Paula Patel coming to work for a Fortune 500 company. If they need to be on a boat, it is more out of corruption and working around the rules than anything else.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  3. David Lloyd

    Kyle – numerous top students with high potential from some of the best US universities cannot get visas to get their businesses going in the States – for example despite having come top of their class in engineering at Stanford and having set up a start-up employing 7 people – what happened: kicked out. This example is a colleague here in Start-Up Chile. Why do you think Silicon Valley & so many US politicians are supporting visa reform if the current situation is perfect, as you seem to believe?

    May 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Roberto

    While I don't think that a "perfect" immigration policy example exists, I can speak out of personal experience about the frustration (and delays and costs associated) brought by of U.S. immigration laws. In our case, we were a Spanish company that founded an U.S. corporation for increasing business here. For that purpose I needed to come here to set up the office, find new employees, develop business, etc: we were a textbook definition of the L-1 visa. But after 9 months of continuous applying process, five attempts (with their respective denials), double-digit lawyer fees all we had in the end were reasons such as "you didn't show that you paid for the company" (even though no company was actually acquired or paid for, since it was directly created) or "your office has only 3 desks and you say you are planning to hire more than 5 people" (why would we rent a bigger office if right now there's only one person there?). We simply gave up. And we were not the only ones... another company (small, like ourselves) had a VP of Sales brought here under the L-1 visa, and then when their CEO made an attempt to come using the same process he was denied the L-1 visa because he wasn't "a manager" (as defined by the Immigration Bureau)... even though he was the head of the company.

    May 26, 2012 at 12:09 am |
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Quest Means Business airs Monday to Friday, 1600 New York and 2100 London, and is hosted by Richard Quest.



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