BELLEVUE - Every year tens of thousands of high tech workers from countries like India and China come to the U.S. and work for big firms like Microsoft and Google under temporary visas that run out in six years. Some can stay longer under employer sponsored green cards. But when it comes time to move on from those jobs and start their own companies, these skilled workers hit a wall in American immigration law.
"Immigration law is very complicated. Probably the second most complicated topic from tax law," said Tahmina Watson, a Seattle attorney in immigration law who has taken a particular interest in making it easier for entrepreneurs to create start-up or spin-off companies.
What's happening right now?
"A lot of people, even my own clients are going back to their countries," said Watson.
Which means that the jobs from those start-ups will be created back in places like India and not in the United States.
Both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House have in their respective immigration reform packages ways to make it easier for those start-ups to happen in the U.S. But Watson is backing the Senate versions, one of which would create what's called an EB6 Visa. That section of the bill still involves a complex series of requirements like significant ownership interest, the creation of three to five qualified jobs and investments of a half million dollars that can partly come from people like venture capitalists or a $750,000 revenue stream and eventual residency if the target gates are met.
Current law requires a half million dollar investment by the person who is setting up the business, money a lot of potential entrepreneurs simply don't have.