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America Gives Foreign Entrepreneurs Cold Shoulder

The U.S. has no specific visa for foreigners who want to create new companies. . / Credit: Statue of Liberty image via Shutterstock

America is the land of opportunity, unless you're a foreign-born entrepreneur long on ideas for creating a new business but short on cash. The Statue of Liberty won't be leaving the torch on for you. That's because the U.S. has no specific visa for foreigners who want to create new companies, The Economist reports.

There is a visa for investors who can bring a sizable chunk of green — usually $1 million; half that in a depressed neighborhood — but that program attracts few takers because of the stiff cost of entry. As a result, the annual quota of 10,000 visas is rarely filled, The Economist said.

Meanwhile, many other nations greet entrepreneurs with open arms. Chile is one of the most generous. It gives selected start-ups a grub stake of $40,000 and requires no equity stake in return.  Great Britain grants visas to entrepreneurs who can attract at least $77,000 in British venture funding. New Zealand requires no up-front investment and offers residency to entrepreneurs whose companies are likely to benefit the country.

[Entrepreneurship is Alive and Well. So Where Are the Jobs?]

Even crowded Singapore rolls out the red carpet to entrepreneurs who invest as little as $40,000.

While Australia and Canada do not specifically earmark visas for entrepreneurs, they issue visas based on a point system that emphasizes youth and skill. Australia issues 126,000 visas for skilled workers a year, almost as many as the U.S. (140,000), even though Australia is only one-fourteenth the size of the U.S.

The share of permanent visas granted by the U.S. for economic reasons fell from 18 percent to 13 percent between 1991 and 2011, The Economist said. By comparison, in Canada the share rose from 18 percent to 67 percent.

America's scorn for off-shore skills, as The Economist sees it, flies in the face of the nation's rich history of welcoming immigrant ideas and work ethic. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.

It's a cause for concern, The Economist says, echoing a warning from the pro-immigration Partnership for a New American Economy that America is "falling behind in the global race for talent."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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