Good morning. Almost 10,000 green cards a year are available through the investor visa program for foreign businessmen who invest in American businesses and create jobs for American workers. If investors and their families utilized all these visas, and each investor created the 10 jobs called for by the program, tens of thousands of jobs a year would be created. That is something I'm sure all of us could all rally around.
And yet, the investor visa program is presently underutilized. DHS issued only 749 investor visas in 2006, rising to 2,480 in 2010. The program has the potential to be a far larger job creator.
The recent growth we have seen in the investor visa program has come from the regional center pilot program. A regional center pools investments in defined economic zones. The establishment of a regional center may be based on general predictions concerning the kinds of commercial enterprises that will receive capital, the jobs that will be created directly or indirectly as a result of such capital investments, and the other positive economic effects such investments will have. Numerous regional centers exist in my state of California.
The regional center program expires in a year. We will examine today its level of success in generating jobs, the merits of a reauthorization and the appropriate length of a reauthorization.
We will also examine another proposal that has been made to utilize unused investor visas. What if we were to make green cards available not just to foreign investors willing to invest in American businesses, but to foreign entrepreneurs with visions of new ways of doing business and whole new industries? For those new businesses that pay off, we could be talking not 10 jobs but thousands of jobs.
This idea -- called the "start-up" visa -- has gained a lot of support in recent years in venture capital circles. A number of Members have introduced legislation proposing such a visa program, including my good friend Ranking Member Lofgren.
While I am not prepared at this time to declare my support, this innovative proposal deserves Congress' serious consideration. We will give it that consideration today.