The so-called “Startup Visa” has been proposed and debated for years, and finally in January 2017, the closest version to the Startup Visa, the International Entrepreneur Rule was made into the law. It was supposed to take effect on July 17, 2017, but now the government decided to postpone the effective date until March 14, 2018, and is calling for “comments from the public regarding a proposal to rescind the rule.” We only have 30 days to submit our comments on this rule, which ends on August 10, 2017, so let’s submit our voices soon!
The International Entrepreneur Rule became law right before President Obama left the office, on January 17, 2017. It offers maximum of 5 years of legal status (not a visa) to foreign entrepreneurs who can either receive at least $250,000 from U.S. investors or at least $100,000 from U.S. governments, or can otherwise prove that their startup companies can provide significant public benefit to the U.S. The whole idea of this rule is to solicit talented foreigners who will develop business in the U.S., bring in new technologies and ideas to the U.S., hire U.S. workers, and pay taxes to the U.S., and therefore benefiting U.S. economy as well as social welfare.
However, one week before this rule was supposed to take effect, the government published a new rule postponing the effective date for 10 months, and apparently for purpose of trying to rescind this rule. In fact, the government’s justification for not following the normal legal procedure of providing prior notice or opportunity for the public to comment on the new rule is essentially this: because we want to rescind the rule, we don’t want to spend much money on hiring new adjudication officers and develop new guidelines, and we don’t want the applicants and/or investors to rely on the International Entrepreneur Rule and make wasted investments because they won’t be able to get approvals anyway. The government is very clear on its intention to rescind the rule by stating: “Given that DHS will be proposing to rescind the[International Entrepreneur] final rule, and may ultimately eliminate the program…” and “In the event the [International Entrepreneur] Final Rule is rescinded—which the Department believes is highly likely….”
Although it is true that making people apply for something they won’t be able to get is bad, taking away people’s ability to apply just one week before they are ready to submit the application and after they have invested a lot in the business is not that better either. I am truly sorry for those entrepreneurs who have relied on this rule to start their companies and invested their time, energy, resources, and money, as well as those investors who invested in these entrepreneurs thinking that the founders can stay in the U.S. and make the businesses successful.
Although I won’t say that this International Entrepreneur Rule is perfect, it does gives a lot of people the opportunity to create business and achieve their American Dreams. As foreigners, it is not so easy to acquire investment from U.S. investors or U.S. governments. They need to go through a lot of cultural and language barriers to compete with the native entrepreneurs. So if they do get investments, that is a very good sign that the U.S. people believe that those foreigners can benefit the U.S. economy and/or social welfare. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the Trump administration will not completely take away the hopes of international entrepreneurs and the opportunity for the U.S. citizens to gain benefits, by simply rescinding the rule. If they do rescind the rule, there should be a new alternative rule that creates a better system.
At this point, it seems unlikely that we can undo the postponing of the International Entrepreneur Rule, however we can voice our concerns on rescinding the rule and/or ideas for some new rules, with the hope that the government will ultimately provide its nation with a good solution for the long and high demands for rules regarding foreign entrepreneurs.
Submitting Your Comments
Either you support the International Entrepreneur Rule or oppose to it, or has your own ideas about rules for foreign entrepreneurs, you can submit your comments to the government in one of the two ways below:
- Online: Go to https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=USCIS-2015-0006-0657
- Mail: Submit to Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, USCIS, DHS, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529. To ensure proper handling, please reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2015-0006 in your correspondence.
Remember, the deadline is August 10, 2017.