To encourage foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses in the US.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: In an effort to make the US more attractive to highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs from foreign nations, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose a new initiative that will allow spouses of H-1B visa holders, who have filed for an extension, to work in the US.
The announcement came in a press release, issued by the White House on Monday, which said that the proposal was part of several new measures that the DHS would try to implement in order to “streamline, eliminate inefficiency, and increase the transparency of the existing immigration system.” However, the press release implies that not every spouse of H-1B visa holders would be allowed employment in the US, saying that the rules would only allow employment for spouses of “certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas” that have filed for extensions.
“[These are] several proposed rules that will make the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness,” said the White House. “These proposed regulations include rules authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers.”
The news came on the same day that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the cap for H-1B applications and petitions for 2014 had been reached in just five days, meaning that all of this year’s eligible applicants will go into a lottery system that will determine who ultimately receives the highly coveted visa. The H-1B is an immigration classification reserved for highly skilled foreigners coming to America for work, mainly in the IT sector.
Another proposal outlined in the press release is Entrepreneur Pathways, which is “an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States.”
It was also announced that the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are “launching a new collaboration to empower entrepreneurial scientists and address the critical gap between fundamental research and the development of a commercial entity.” The NIH will create the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), for academic researchers and entrepreneurs, while the NSF will launch the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps), a mentor-driven program “specially tailored for bio-medical technologies.”
[This story was updated on 4/9/13 to clarify that the proposal does not, in fact, say that preference for work authorization would be given to spouses in the STEM fields.]