Oct. 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM ET
The U.S. has been ground zero for technological advancement for years — especially with the rise of the Internet. But entrepreneurial experts are sounding the warning bell that those days might be numbered.
Silicon Valley is still the heart of the tech world, but foreign-born entrepreneurs, who traditionally have moved to the U.S. to start their companies (or stayed here after attending American universities), are now opting instead to return home, in large part because of the difficulty in obtaining a work visa.
"It's increasingly hard for a foreign-born entrepreneur to get an appropriate visa to stay in the U.S.," said Brad Feld, an early-stage investor and managing director of Foundry Group.
"Things have gotten a little better recently with nuanced policy changes at (US Citizen and Immigration Services), but it's still a disaster on a relative basis," Feld said.
Feld is not alone in his criticisms of immigration practices. Along with other prominent American investors, such as Eric Ries, Paul Graham and Netflix founder Reid Hoffman, he is spearheading a movement called the Startup Visa. At its core, this proposed amendment to immigration law would create a new visa category for foreign-born entrepreneurs who have raised capital from recognized U.S.-based investors.
The proposal found sponsors in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it has been stuck in committee for well over a year.
There's no vocal opposition to the bill, but neither does there appear to be a groundswell of Congressional support — and that gridlock is resulting in more immigrant entrepreneurs packing up and heading home.
"Talk to anyone in the startup community, and they all say we've started to run out of talent," said Vivek Wadhwa, director of research at Duke University's Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization and the author of "The Immigrant Exodus."
"What you're seeing is less innovation than you might have otherwise seen," he said. "Economic growth is being given away."
Even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is weighing in on the matter. During an August meeting of the Economic Club of Chicago, Bloomberg said, "America is committing economic suicide by failing to confront the issue of immigration reform."