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中国地产新贵成美国新移民主力

Nin-Hai Tseng 2013年04月08日

美国政府智库研究人员透露,最近几年对投资移民签证的需求正在上升。其中大部分的增长来自中国投资者,他们中间很多的财富积累都来自于中国欣欣向荣的房地产市场。未来几年,这个趋势可能仍然会得到延续。

    纵观历史,第一代美国人(父母为移民,本人出生在美国的公民——译注)创立了很多大型的美国企业,成绩骄人。其中就有:英特尔(Intel)、谷歌(Google)和eBay等知名大企业。

    现如今,随着对美国移民政策改革的讨论继续,美国是否应当效法加拿大值得探讨。4月1日,美国的北方邻国加拿大推出了一项新的签证计划,希望能吸引全球最优秀、最聪明的创业者。这项计划与近年来澳大利亚、智利、英国等国新推出或重新修订的创业签证计划类似。主要区别在于:与大多数国家让参与者等待几年,以确定其创业企业能够创造多少工作岗位不同,加拿大的新签证计划从一开始就给予申请者永久居住权。

    巧合的是,这个计划推出的当天,美国也开启了外国技术工人的签证申请季。不同于金融危机以来的前几年,H-1B签证(美国移民局签发给受美国公司雇用的从事专业职位的外籍人士的短期非移民工作签证——译注)申请大幅增加。这是美国经济状况改善的反映,也是渴望前往美国生活和工作的外籍人才创业精神的体现。

    很多人预计,今年H-1B签证的配额4月5日就会用尽。这很遗憾,因为更多雇佣或许能刺激更广阔经济领域中的其他就业。

    诚然,艾奥瓦州共和党参议员查克•格拉斯利、伊利诺伊州民主党参议员理查德•德宾和其他人都担忧美国的签证政策。他们的问题是,外国工人是否将取代合格的美国人。但科技行业中的很多人认为,美国没有足够的工程师和编程人员等类似人员来满足美国的用工需求——科技业是移民辩论中最重要的一支影响力量。

    今年1月份,一些议员们提出了一项议案,希望将技术工人的H-1B签证限额从每年65,000张增至115,000张,甚至可能提高到每年300,000张。如果获得批准,这项法案将帮助很多外国技术工人留在美国,但还是不能阻止他们最终返回到自己的国家,或者到其他地方创办公司(同时创造就业)。

    根据加拿大新的创业签证计划,外国创业者需要从投资者那里获得75,000美元的投资才能获得加拿大签证。美国曾提议推行一项类似的计划,但这个想法尚未付诸实施。最近一次尝试是在2月份,一些议员起草了《初创企业法》,拟给予那些为新公司筹集了100,000万美元的创始人们发放签证。这些企业必须在成立一年内至少聘请2名员工,之后三年须聘请至少5名员工。

    这项议案的结局还有待观察。去年5月,议员们对于一项类似的法案《初创法案2.0》(Startup Act 2.0)并不是特别感兴趣。当然,如今美国国会面临更庞大复杂的全面移民改革问题。

    “眼下的问题是,《创业法案》会成为讨论的一部分吗?”华盛顿智库布鲁金斯学会(Brookings Institution)负责评估美国移民政策的高级研究员奥德丽•辛格问道。

    辛格当前正在撰写一份有关联邦政府EB-5计划的研究报告,EB-5计划面向的是那些能向美国公司至少投资500,000美元的外国人。如果他们的投资创造了至少10个工作岗位,他们就可以获得永久性绿卡。辛格补充说,最近几年对于EB-5签证的需求正在上升。大部分的增长来自中国投资者——他们很多的财富积累来自于中国繁荣的房地产市场。这个趋势在未来几年可能仍然会得到延续,中国人将继续把这些新获得的财富用于投资。

    说到底,外国人有兴趣在美国扩大生意,这一点显而易见。但问题是:美国是否愿意(或者更重要的是,是否能够)与其他国家竞争?包括加拿大。(财富中文网)

    译者:杨智

    Throughout history, first-generation Americans have had a solid track record of starting some of the biggest U.S. companies. To name a few: Intel (INTC), Google (GOOG), and eBay (EBAY).

    Now as debates over U.S. immigration policy reform continue, it's worth asking if the U.S should take Canada's lead. On Monday, our northern neighbor launched a new visa program designed to lure the best and the brightest entrepreneurs from around the world. It's similar to other start-up visas that have recently been created or revamped in places like Australia, Chile, and the U.K. The big difference is that unlike most countries that make participants wait a few years to see how many jobs their startups create, Canada's new visa grants permanent residency from the start.

    Coincidentally, the launch came the same day the U.S. kicked off application season for skilled-foreign worker visas. Unlike previous years since the financial crisis, petitions for H-1B visashave risen sharply. It's a sign of an improving economy but also a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of talented foreigners hungry to live and work in the U.S.

    Many expect the quota for H-1Bs will be exhausted for this year's application season by Friday. Which is a shame, given that more hiring would likely spur other jobs for the broader economy.

    To be sure, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and others worry about the U.S. visa program. They question whether foreign workers are displacing qualified Americans. But many in the tech industry -- one of the most powerful players in the immigration debate -- would argue that there aren't enough engineers, programmers, and the like to fill U.S. jobs.

    In January, lawmakers introduced a bill that would increase H-1B visas for skilled workers from a maximum of 65,000 to 115,000 a year, and possibly to as many as 300,000 a year. If passed, the bill would help keep many more skilled foreigners from leaving the U.S., but it would also fall short of keeping them from eventually returning home or potentially starting companies (and creating new jobs) elsewhere.

    Under Canada's new startup visa, foreign entrepreneurs would need to secure $75,000 from investors to enter the country. The U.S. has proposed a similar program, but the idea has yet to take off. The latest efforts came in February when lawmakers introduced the Startup Act, a bill that would issue visas to founders who raise $100,000 for new ventures that hire at least two employees within a year and at least five in the following three years.

    It remains to be seen where the bill goes: Last May, lawmakers weren't that excited about a similar bill, Startup Act 2.0. And of course, Congress faces the bigger monster of comprehensive immigration reform.

    "The question now is will the Startup Act be a part of the conversation?" asks Audrey Singer, senior fellow who evaluates U.S. immigration policy at Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C. think tank.

    Singer is currently working on a paper about the federal government's EB-5 program targeted to foreigners who can invest at least $500,000 in U.S.-based businesses. If their money creates at least 10 jobs, then they can receive a permanent green card. In recent years, there's been an uptick in demand for EB-5s, Singer adds. Much of the rise comes from Chinese investors -- many of whom have accumulated much of their wealth from China's booming real estate market. The trend is likely to continue in the coming years as the Chinese look to invest their newfound wealth.

    In the end, it's clear foreigners have an interest in doing more business in the U.S. The question is, however: Is America willing -- and more importantly, able -- to compete with the rest of the world? Canada included.

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