US immigration program for foreign entrepreneurs revived

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Foreign entrepreneurs will have more access to a US immigration program that allows them to work in America after President Joe Biden revived the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). The IER, which Trump attempted to kill during his time in office, was proposed by the Obama administration three days before he left office in 2017.


The IER allows overseas entrepreneurs to work in the US for up to five years, provided that their start-up company secures $250,000 in US venture capital, hires 10 employees or meets other qualifying criteria. 

The Trump administration heavily opposed the program because it relies on legislation known as parole, which allows foreigners into America without a US visa, provided that there is ‘significant public benefit’.


Notice published to terminate program

A notice was published by the Trump administration targeting the termination of the IER program. However, the former administration never followed through on its threat to scrap the IER.

Nevertheless, the program didn’t gain any traction because it was perceived by start-up founders and venture capitalist firms that the notice was an indication of the Trump administration’s intention not to approve applications.

However, the Biden administration has stated that it plans to promote the program in a bid to revive it. The move comes in response to venture capitalist firms, which have urged the administration to back the program and enable potentially thousands of start-up founders to move or remain in the US to grow their businesses.

Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director, Tracy Renaud, said: “Immigrants in the United States have a long history of entrepreneurship, hard work, and creativity, and their contributions to this nation are incredibly valuable.”


No US visa route for start-up founders

America currently has no US visa program for start-up founders, thanks largely to the Trump administration, which delayed legislation for a start-up visa back in March 2019. However, the idea of a visa route for start-up founders is widely backed by bipartisan support.

Currently, foreign entrepreneurs must pursue other US visa categories to gain entry into America, including the E2 visa, which allows nationals of certain countries to start a new business in the US without a huge investment.

A USCIS official claimed that the IER program only had 30 applicants between 2017 and 2019, while only one application was approved in that time.

According to USCIS estimates, if the program is run correctly, up to 3,000 foreign entrepreneurs a year could qualify for the scheme. This could lead to approximately 100,000 new jobs being created over a 10-year period. 


Decision to revive IER praised

Having sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, urging him to revive the program, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), an advocacy organization for the industry, along with several other groups, welcomed the Biden administration’s decision.

President and chief executive of the NVCA, Bobby Franklin, said: “By implementing the International Entrepreneur Rule, the Biden Administration is unlocking an incredible job creation tool that will help the United States remain the global leader in innovation.” can help with US employment-based visas

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