18 September 2007

US immigration debate continues

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Intense political debate surrounds America's troubled immigration policy. The US Congress has failed to pass legislation reforming American immigration twice already this year.

In an interview published by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, British author and economist Philippe Legrain says the American immigration system is "absurdly restrictive in granting visas to highly skilled foreigners and US companies suffer, or shift operations overseas, as a result".

"If you think that Google, Yahoo!, eBay were all co-founded by immigrants, and that nearly half of America's venture-capital-funded start-ups were founded by immigrants, keeping out foreign brainpower is a remarkably stupid policy," he added.

Legrain has just written a book called Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, which takes the view that America's immigration restrictions are "economically stupid, politically unsustainable and morally wrong".

He makes the case, not only for a skills-based immigration policy to attract talent, but for the economic and societal benefits of diversity. He says: "In advanced economies in periods of rapid economic change such as now, the value of diversity and the creativity it spurs comes into its own. That's why, as China catches up, America needs to open up further to foreigners in order to stay ahead."

Anyone applying for an American visa should begin by taking the American Visa Bureau's online American visa application to see if they meet the basic legislative requirements.

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