DETROIT — Governor Rick Snyder asked the federal government Thursday to set aside thousands of work visas for bankrupt Detroit, a bid to revive the decaying city by attracting talented immigrants who are willing to move there and stay for five years.
The Republican governor has routinely touted immigration as a potential force for growing Detroit’s economy, saying immigrant entrepreneurs start many small businesses and file patents at twice the rate of US-born citizens.
‘‘Let’s send a message to the entire world: Detroit, Michigan, is open to the world,’’ Snyder said at a news conference.
The proposal involves EB-2 visas, which are offered to legal immigrants who have advanced degrees or show exceptional ability in certain fields.
But the governor’s ambitious plan faces significant hurdles: The visas are not currently allocated by region or state. And the number he is seeking — 50,000 over five years — would be a quarter of the total EB-2 visas offered.
The proposal seemed to take officials by surprise at the State Department, which works with the Homeland Security Department to decide on visa requests.