Five Chicago colleges have joined forces to create a program to encourage students with entrepreneurial ideas to stay in Chicago and create their start-up businesses. The plans were announced by Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel and involve Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago and North-westernUniversity.
The global entrepreneur-in-residence schemes will open 10-20 opportunities for the institutions to sponsor successful students for H-1B visas. The H-1B visa is currently under threat of change from the new Donald Trump presidency. Trump has suggested a move to a more merit-based system and so far, restricted fast processing for the H-1B scheme. The changes come despite protests from Silicon Valley and many high-tech employers in the US who rely on highly skilled foreign students to fill vacancies in IT, engineering and science. The H-1B visa is also used by finance and medical professionals to work in the USA. At the start of the century, H-1B visas were granted to nearly 200,000 foreign workers and currently stands at around 85,000. Demand for H-1B visas well exceeds the cap and many companies are pushing for an increase in the number of the visas available. They will certainly not benefit from any restrictions.
Mayor Emanuel illustrates Chicago as a welcoming city and believes highly skilled entrepreneurial talent spurs innovation, creates jobs and drives economic growth for Chicago.
Many US companies who fail to gain H-1B allowances via what is described as a “lottery” due to the supply-demand deficit are considering off-shoring the work they cannot complete using US labour alone.
The entrepreneur-in-residence candidates would become part-time employees of the colleges while they also work on their start-ups. Established entrepreneurs within the scheme would be able to base their start-ups in centers for entrepreneurship, innovation hubs or start-up incubators within the colleges.
Other US universities operate the scheme and more are planning to join the trend including the University of Missouri at St Louis, the University of Alaska at Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University.
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