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Immigration Reform and Orlando's Economic Recovery


As has been addressed by my other colleagues, President Obama recently announced his plans for reforming our immigration system through taking executive action to positively amend enforcement priorities and keep families together. The President also mentioned intentions and plans that will positively affect immigrant professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, and businesses, but we have yet to see those plans memorialized.

As Attorney Christian Zeller stated in a prior blog: “While the executive action announcement promises revamping the labor certification program, giving work authorizations to H-4 dependants, extending optional practical training work authorizations for certain students, and modernizing the employment-based immigrant visa system, those are just that – promises.”

The truth is that an immigration system remodeled to support our present, globalized culture is the most important element towards facilitating our nation's economic recovery. We need for the employment-based visa system to be altered so that immigrants can help foster economic growth and competition. Currently, more than 1 million skilled immigrants and their families are waiting to be able to apply for green cards, as there is simply an insufficient number of green cards available. Rather than waiting in this backlog, innovation that would otherwise be happening here is going abroad.

Our nation is not only one that was founded by immigrants, but one that has continuously been improved by immigrants who were able to remain in this country. A June 2011 article by Partnership for a New American Economy reported that immigrant entrepreneurs established 18% of all Fortune 500 Companies, including Big Lots, BJ's Wholesale Club, and Wellcare Health Plans. Further, well-known companies whose products and services are critical to many of our daily lives, including Yahoo!, Google, and eBay, were all founded by immigrants. The report reflected that these companies have generated over $1.7 trillion in annual revenue and employ over 3.7 million workers worldwide.

Here in Orlando, Florida, our local residential population is as diverse as any line at a Disney World ride or busy terminal at the Orlando International Airport. We are a city of cultures and nationalities including Eastern and Western Europeans, Asians, peoples of the Middle Eastern countries, West Indians of the Caribbean, Africans, and South and Central Americans and other Latinos. We are a true melting pot, and The City Beautiful reflects this with its immigrant neighborhoods and communities, markets, retail venues, restaurants, and more.

Though our visa system is lacking in terms of bringing over or keeping high skilled professionals in the country, the system has not prevented immigrant entrepreneurs from contributing largely to Florida's economy. Orlando is a place where immigrant entrepreneurs can flourish. A 2013 article by the Immigration Policy Center reported that between 2006 and 2010, 286,144 new immigrant became business owners in Florida, and 29.7 percent of all business owners in the state were foreign-born. Further, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $13.3 billion, which was 23.8 percent of all net business income in the state.

Once our immigration system is reformed so that more highly skilled workers have the opportunity to remain in or immigrate to the United States, our immigration system will be the nation's resource for fostering commerce, innovation, competition, and growth, and we will see the economic recovery we still need develop as a natural consequence.

Despite the lack of visas in certain categories, our Orlando law office consistently assists those who are interested in establishing or investing into existing companies (E-1 and EB-5 categories), as well as intra-company transferees (L-1A category). We also assist those highly skilled and other professional workers who have been offered temporary employment at U.S. companies in Orlando and other cities and states (H-1B category). Our attorneys and staff are well-versed in all business categories and can assist with all applications and petitions to USCIS.

Our office, at 6200 Lee Vista Blvd., Orlando Florida, 32822, is conveniently located across from the USCIS building. Call us at 407-857-1300 so we can help you with your immigration needs.

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