DHS implements yet another Executive Action on immigration by Barack Obama.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finally given a reprieve to entrepreneurs who are keen to start businesses in the country, but are stymied because of visa issues.
Now, a new rule would give parole to qualified entrepreneurs, and help in ease of doing business. The proposed regulations was released August 26 by the DHS.
The long-awaited proposed regulations would allow the DHS secretary to temporarily admit, on a case-by-case basis, entrepreneurs who meet a certain set of defined criteria related to the success of their startup companies and how many jobs they generate for U.S. workers, according to Bloomberg BNA.
The idea is that these entrepreneurs will generate a “significant public benefit” to the country by growing the economy and creating jobs, and so they should be allowed into the U.S. without having to go through the regular process for applying for a visa.
The proposed rule is one of the last pieces of President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive action on immigration to be implemented. In a post issued the same day, the White House also indicated that DHS guidance on entrepreneurs’ self-petitioning for a green card is forthcoming. The guidance likely relates to the promised national interest waiver vehicle for immigrant entrepreneurs seeking green cards.
The president is “committed to attracting the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs,” Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said during an August 26 press call.
More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, and immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a company as their native-born counterparts, he said. Immigrants are behind many tech giants, including eBay, Google, Instagram, Tesla, WhatsApp, and SpaceX.
Immigrants are particularly suited to starting businesses in the U.S. because they are “long on ambition and short on things to lose,” Max Levchin, a co-founder of PayPal, said, reported Bloomberg BNA.
“There are many international students studying in the U.S. on F1 visa, who ask about how to start businesses back in their home countries because they don’t see a way to stay in the U.S.”, Levchin said during the press call. It “makes very little sense” that the U.S. is educating the best and brightest and then losing that talent to other countries because of our immigration system, he said.
Currently, there is no visa for immigrants to found startup companies, although legislation to that effect has been introduced in Congress several times.
The proposed rule is aimed at those entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that their startups have the potential for rapid growth, job creation and innovation, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director León Rodríguez. The agency expects about 3,000 applications a year once the rule is finalized and the program gets off the ground, although there is no cap on the number that can apply.
That could mean the creation of upwards of 30,000 jobs per year under the program.
The administration is working to get that going by the end of the calendar year. There will be a 45-day comment period once the proposed rule appears in the Federal Register, currently scheduled for August 31.
The proposed rule would set up two separate periods of “parole,” the discretionary authority the administration is using under the Immigration and Nationality Act. There would be an initial, two-year period that could be extended an additional three years. Both periods have similar criteria that would have to be met for the entrepreneur to be able to stay in the U.S.
After those periods of parole, the entrepreneur could choose to apply for a temporary visa or green card, such as an EB-2 or H-1B, Rodríguez said.
Under the proposed rule, for the first two-year parole period, entrepreneurs would have to show: creation of a startup within the three years preceding the application and that the startup has the potential for rapid growth and job creation; the applicant has at least a 15 percent ownership interest in the company and has an active role in its operations and future growth; and the startup has secured at least $345,000 in funding from established U.S. investors or at least $100,000 in government grants.
For the additional three years, entrepreneurs would have to show: the company has been lawfully operating for the past two years and continues to have the potential for rapid growth and job creation; the entrepreneur has at least a 10 percent ownership interest in the company and has an active role in its operations and future growth; the company received at least $500,000 in additional funding from establishing U.S. investors or government grants; the company has at least $500,000 in annual revenue, with average annualized revenue growth of at least 20 percent; and the company created at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.
For both periods, the entrepreneur applicant also would be able to submit alternative, “compelling” evidence that admission to the U.S. would create a significant public benefit. Up to three co-founders of a single startup business could apply for parole.
The proposed rule also would allow entrepreneurs to bring their spouses and children, and spouses would be granted employment authorization.