Proposed Entrepreneur Rule For Immigrant Start-up Founders

Last Wednesday, Department of Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson signed a new proposed rule from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in which certain immigrant founders of start-up companies may receive temporary permission to stay in the United States.  These entrepreneurs would be allowed to work in the United States for up to five years if they have already started a business within the last three years, plan to create a new business in this country, or own at least 15% of a start-up and are positioned to function in a key operational role.   DHS would grant the temporary stays on a discretionary basis.

The idea behind the new proposed rule is that these foreign-born entrepreneurs will provide significant public benefits in job creation, revenue generation, and rapid growth of industry and commerce.  In fact, studies on entrepreneurship demonstrate that the U.S. economy benefits from robust business immigration.  In fact, a study by Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization based in Arlington, Virginia, focusing on trade, immigration and related issues, shows that immigrants started more than half of the current grouping of U.S.-based startups valued at $1 billion or more.  According to the study, an average of 760 jobs per company have been created in the United States by these foreign-born entrepreneurs.

With the International Entrepreneur Rule, it is important to note that the type of permission to remain in the United States, otherwise known as “parole,” does not provide entrepreneurs the types of perks of other work visas or investor visas, but it certainly offers entrepreneurs immigration advantages and an ability to live and work lawfully in the United States for an extended period of time, with a possible renewal.

At the Shulman Law Group, LLC, a firm dedicated exclusively to immigration law, we feel that this new rule is critical to encourage foreign entrepreneurship as there is a current void in the immigration visa landscape that almost discourages immigrants to start companies in the United States.  Several of our foreign business clients have asked how the Entrepreneur rule relates to the H-1B visa.  The H-1B visa has nothing to do with startups founded by immigrants.  The H-1B visa ties workers to their jobs so if a worker leaves his or her job, he or she would have to apply for a change of status (which is oft-times a complicated and uncertain process) or leave the country entirely. The Entrepreneur rule would allow foreign-born business clients to create and work for their own companies.  While the proposed rule will help many foreign entrepreneurs found start-up companies, it may not help all immigrants seeking to start businesses.  For example, business ventures that may serve a public good but are not scaled to generate massive revenue may be overlooked in favor of companies that can offer more fruitful financial returns.

Our law firm encourages interested clients to return to the blog section of our immigration law website for updates on this new proposed rule for foreign-born entrepreneurs.  Likewise, we invite interested individuals to schedule an appointment to discuss all business related immigration options.