Broken U.S. immigration slowing entrepreneurship down

Amit Paka, a co-founder at Parable, founder of Flockish and who also held high-up positions at Microsoft and PayPal, recently took his oath of U.S. citizenship.  In a TechCrunch article, Mr. Paka recently described the negative ramifications that the immigration process has had on Silicon Valley. “This wait [referring to the 12 years he waited for U.S. citizenship] damages the entrepreneurship spirit and, worse, impacts career prospects, thereby crimping the economy. And I’m not an outlier; comparable delays play out over and over amongst prospective permanent residents in Silicon Valley. Our immigration system hinders entrepreneurship, innovation and productivity.”

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In order to succeed in Silicon Valley, one must be able to predict trends in technology and products.  One must also be willing to leave jobs for a possibly unpredictable company.  

Startups provide jobs as well as a highly trained workforce.  When someone creates their own startup of joins one, they are able to take on several roles that they were previously unable to.  

Paka claims that, “The immigration process impedes all these possibilities.”

Every permanent residency application requires three steps: immigration petition (I-140), labor certification (LC), and adjustment of status (AoS).  LC is skill and location specific.   “This disrupts labor mobility by disallowing transition to different roles (in my case, from engineering to product management) or relocation to more promising company locations. If you want to change companies at this stage, tough luck; you must restart the process, losing all the years spent in the queue, like I did.”

I-140 leaves the immigrant in an unsure state as they wait for AoS.  I-140 is considered immigration intent and bars the immigrant from receiving a student visa, thus forcing the immigrant to attend class while working.  

If the immigrant switches companies, then your application could be reset.  If you lose your job then you must leave the country.  

Paka went on to say, “The American dream is built on entrepreneurship. But risk taking can only thrive in a stable residency environment.”

The United States is no longer the most sought after innovation center in the United States.  Congress has turned its back on legal immigration while it focusses on illegal immigration, thus hindering the process.

“Let’s give a voice to innovation, entrepreneurship and the American dream.”