Trump Administration Set To Cancel Entrepreneurial Visa Program

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The Trump administration has delayed and will probably cancel the entrepreneurial visa program put in place by President Obama last year and scheduled to begin next week. A lot of people, including those involved with tech companies, are not happy.

The program was created by an executive order signed by Obama last year. Referred to as “The International Entrepreneur Rule” it was scheduled to take effect on Jul. 17. On Monday, the White House announced it will now be delayed until March 14, 2018 although the program will likely be cancelled before then. The rule is being reviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. It is expected the review will result in the program being scrapped.

Under the program, foreign entrepreneurs could apply for what is known as a “startup visa.” If granted, the visa holder would be able to come to and remain in the United States for up to 30 months. This time limit could be extended although applicants would not technically have any status in the U.S.; they would be on parole. But success of the applicant under the program could lead to citizenship.

 To qualify for a startup visa, an applicant would have to show they have received at least $250,000 from investors and/or a minimum $100,000 in government grants. The applicant would have to play a central and active role in the proposed enterprise and the proposed business must have the potential for rapid growth and be able to create jobs.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) drafted a letter to the administration urging them to keep the rule in order to provide for more startups. The letter was signed by almost 80 groups. The NVCA released a statement saying they found news the program will probably be cancelled “extremely disappointing.” Bobby Franklin, CEO of the NVCA, said, “At a time when countries around the world are doing all they can to attract and retain talented individuals to come to their shores and build and grow innovative companies, the Trump administration is signalling its intent to do the exact opposite.”

Reports have shown of U.S. tech companies, 25 percent have been founded by first or second generation Americans. And 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were begun by immigrants or their children.

The reason for delaying and probably cancelling the program is that the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency is too busy to implement it. USCIS said they are “overwhelmed” by what they are doing now and do not have the resources to hire and train personnel to implement the entrepreneurial visa program.

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