President Obama proposed to eliminate country-specific caps for certain immigrant visa categories to stimulate small-business growth. Country-specific immigrant caps are limits on the number of immigrant visa the United States will grant each year. According to a White House statement, the purpose is to attract more high skilled foreign workers, including entrepreneurs to the United States. Employers, especially those in the technology business, complain that these caps prevent them from hiring skilled workers and growing their companies in the United States.
Obama called for a comprehensive immigration reform bill, and if this is not politically possible, he will seek reforms in smaller steps. "If election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses and defend this country," Obama said.
The Department of Homeland Security said it will implement several measures to simplify the process for immigrant entrepreneurs to do business in the United States, and also to keep more foreign nationals with science and technology degrees from U.S. universities.
Obama said the proposal was a "symbol of how important it is for us to spur entrepreneurship, to help start-ups, to move aggressively so that we can ensure more companies that create most jobs in our economy are getting a leg up from various programs that we have in our government."
Opponents of Obama's plan point to the high unemployment rate in the United States and question why the government would be extending nonimmigrant visas for highly skilled workers while many US citizens and permanent residents are unemployed and are seeking those jobs.
Obama told reporters on Tuesday that he expects Congress to pass a bill this year. However, some members of Congress are likely to oppose the proposal.