Technology sector wins big with US immigration changes

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At a meeting in May at Stanford Law School, academics, executives, and lawyers were asked by US Federal chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra and USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas what they could do to help Silicon Valley; The leading hub for high-tech innovation and development in the United states . The overwhelming answer was to ask for changes to the immigration regulations to enable high tech companies to hire top talent from around the world.

While politics may keep them from implementing all of the necessary reforms to the immigration system, Chopra and Mayorkas said that some changes to existing policy -- which do not require Congressional approval -- could make it easier for the US to recruit highly skilled individuals from abroad. This would be of enormous benefit to the US economy.

On August 2nd, Mayorkas and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the following announcements.

USCIS has confirmed that, under certain circumstances, if you are the sole owner of the employing company in the US you can work for your own company under the H-1B visa scheme. You will need to work full time for the company and be treated like an employee (for example, a board of directors could hire or fire you like any other employee).

USCIS has clarified the situation for entrepreneurs who wish to apply for EB-2 employment based immigration. If you are an Entrepreneur you can apply under the EB-2 immigrant visa category as long as you have an advanced degrees or can show exceptional talent. In addition, if you can come under the "national interest waivers" you can avoid the lengthy labor certification process.

The EB-5 immigrant investor program has also been given a boost. Foreign investors and their families can obtain permanent residence in the US under this category if they invest $1 million in a venture that creates at least 10 jobs, or $500,000 if the jobs are in areas of high unemployment. The processing times for this visa used to take as long as a year but USCIS promises that these applications will now be pushed through in a matter of weeks.