Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Biden Administration To Restart Start Up Visa Program

In furtherance to the restoration of the long list of American codes that were almost scrapped by the Trump administration, the Biden administration has now announced that it will restart the start-up visa program for the promising entrepreneurs. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security made the significant decision keeping in sight the long history of global immigrants in the U.S. who brought along hard work and entrepreneurship.

“Immigrants in the United States have a long history of entrepreneurship, hard work, and creativity, and their contributions to this nation are incredibly valuable,” Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Tracy Renaud for Wall Street Journal.

Earlier, the Trump administration put the International Entrepreneur program (IER) on hold stating that it let foreign immigrants enter the U.S. in the absence of a visa who could then stay as long as they are given “significant public benefit”.

IER or simply start-up visa was started under the Obama administration and allowed eligible international entrepreneurs to temporarily live in the U.S. to grow their startup. The rule is based on the concept of immigration parole and entrepreneurs who match the eligibility criteria, need not have a work visa or a green card. The tenure of a start-up visa for which an immigrant can live in the country is two and a half years, which can be extended for a similar tenure.

So who qualifies for IER?

In order to be eligible for the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), an entrepreneur should have raised a significant amount of funds for his/her startup from both, U.S. investors and the government. A minimum of $250,000 in funding from the U.S. venture capitalists and $100,000 in government grants are necessary to clear the requirements of the program.

Fiona McEntee, a Chicago-based immigration attorney told TOI, “I’m beyond thrilled that the Biden Administration has decided to fully implement the IER. The current US immigration system does not have a specific option for immigrant founders of startups and this puts us at a huge competitive disadvantage. The IER will help fill that gap until Congress can pass a startup visa. We need to do all we can to attract and retain innovative immigrant entrepreneurs.”

Under the Trump administration, the rule was not totally revoked, however, given the hostility of the former government towards the immigrants, applicants did not apply.

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According to USCIS, during the tenure of the former government till 2019, only 30 applicants applied for IER out of whom, only one was approved.

According to Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, “Immigrant entrepreneurs have made incredible contributions to the US economy, including creating some of America’s most prominent companies, such as Moderna and Pfizer that have developed COVID-19 vaccines,”

“By implementing the IER, the Biden Administration is unlocking an incredible job creation tool that will help the U.S. remain the global leader in innovation,” he added.

Other than the U.S., countries like Canada, U.K. and Israel also have their separate start up visa programs for promising entrepreneurs.

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