By: Roujin Mozaffarimehr
On May 25, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposed to end the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) of January 2017, which allowed the Department of Homeland Security to grant a 30 month stay period to foreign entrepreneurs who demonstrated they would provide a significant public benefit through their business venture. The rule was established to encourage entrepreneurs from around the world to develop start-ups in the U.S.
Under the rule, an executive order issued by the Obama Administration, foreign entrepreneurs would have to show access to at least $250,000 in capital derived from U.S.-based, legitimate sources, such as venture capital firms. Interested foreign entrepreneurs could also apply for the program if they received a minimum of $100,000 in grants from the federal government to start up an enterprise.
The decision to end IER should not come as any surprise: DHS under the current administration published a final rule in July 2017 to delay the implementation date to March 14, 2018 for the specific purpose of drafting this rescission rule.
A federal court, however, vacated the July 2017 delay rule in December 2017, which forced USCIS to begin accepting IER applications. But the uncertainty of the rule has discouraged entrepreneurs from applying: since last December, only 10 applications have been received.
DHS claims that laws under the Immigration and Nationality Act already provide visa options for entrepreneurs to start business in the US, identifying E-2 and EB-5 options. However, there are limits to these visa classifications, including funding requirements as well as nationality requirements, which prevent many start-ups from being able to enter the U.S. to establish a business.