MUMBAI: Under President Joe Biden’s administration, the US is reopening its doors to foreign entrepreneurs. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it is withdrawing a ‘proposed’ rule introduced by the Trump administration that would have rescinded the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), better known as the start-up visa program.
IER enables ‘qualified’ international entrepreneurs (based on prescribed criteria including funds raised, which are a minimum of $ 250,000 from qualified US investors or $ 100,000 from government grants) to obtain immigration ‘parole’ – that is to temporarily enter and stay in the US and nurture their startup, despite not having a work visa or a green card. Commonly, IER is known as the startup visa, but it is actually a permit for eligible foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the US for two and a half years with the possibility of another extension of a similar tenure. Withdrawing the proposed rule that would end the IER is consistent with the Biden administration’s goal of better ensuring that all avenues available under the law remain viable options for those seeking to come to the US, including qualified entrepreneurs who would substantially benefit the US by growing new businesses and creating jobs for the US workers, states DHS.
“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,” Fiona McEntee, a Chicago based immigration attorney told TOI. To illustrate, countries such as Canada, Israel and the UK have a separate category of visas for foreign entrepreneurs.
Originally created at the end of the Obama Administration, IER was targeted for removal by the Trump Administration before it was launched. Due to a successful lawsuit filed by the National Venture Capital Association, it remained in force, but was not seen as a viable option as the Trump administration repeatedly tried to end the program.
“The IER is a long overdue immigration pathway for startup founders,” said Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless Immigration – a technology company in the immigraiton space. He had helped create this program while an advisor to former US President Obama.
“This regulation was finalised three days before Donald Trump’s inauguration. It survived several near-death experiences over the next four years, and is now poised to become part of President Biden’s efforts to grow the economy and build back better. I’m so glad that, four years ago, we burned the midnight oil to finish this midnight regulation, whose time has finally come,” added Rand.
“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,” said Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association. “By implementing the IER, the Biden Administration is unlocking an incredible job creation tool that will help the US remain the global leader in innovation,” he added.
TOI had covered this lawsuit – budding entrepreneurs, including those from India, who were also a party to the lawsuit, had pointed out that besides the cutting-edge technology that is available, US based investors have a comfort level if founders are also based in America. Access to funding and future growth for startups especially those in the technology sector is easier, with a US base.
It is a win-win, as according to a representation made earlier by the National Venture Capital Association and other associations to the DHS, it is estimated that the IER could create more than 4.29 ;alj jobs in the first ten years, account for more than $25 billion of direct additional wages over ten years, and inject more than $18 billion of indirect value into the US economy.