Final Present from OBAMA, New International Entrepreneur Program

By: Editorial Staff
January 14, 2017, 4:20 pm

Now smaller companies can expand their businesses into the U.S.

Press Release

Washington - press release-  The Department of Homeland Security has officially enacted a provision to make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to build startups in the U.S. The rule, proposed by President Barack Obama last summer, takes effect exactly one week before he leaves the Oval Office.

Yesterday, April 13, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an advance copy of the final international entrepreneur rule. It will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, and is scheduled to go into effect 180 days from the date of publication. However, it is possible that Congress and/or President-elect Trump could take steps before then to prevent the rule from being implemented.

The rule was proposed as a workaround for foreign entrepreneurs after Congress was unsuccessful in passing any substantive immigration reform. Today there isn’t an appropriate way for business entrepreneurs from other countries to establish companies in the U.S. This is due to the inherent problems associated with business visas, like the H1B, which only apply to skilled employees, not startup founders.

Congress did create the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. However its requirements are cumbersome and difficult to reach for smaller companies.

Under this program, entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

1. Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States;

2. Such investments are a minimum of $500,000 in an underprivileged area or $1,000,000 for other commercial areas.

3. And plans to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

Under the new rules, investors would receive an initial parole of 2.5 years, followed by an extended period of 2.5 additional years. The rule requires startups to have investments of at $250,000. The official rule also gives entrepreneurs more time to land funding — 18 months instead of one year.

To qualify, the founder

1. Has to prove that the startup met certain requirements and demonstrated the potential for “significant public benefit.”

2. The entrepreneurs need to own 10 percent of the startup to qualify for the initial parole period. To re-apply for an additional 2.5 years, founders just need 5 percent ownership.

3. A startup has to generate at least 5 jobs during the initial 2.5-year parole period to qualify for an extension.

Generally speaking, the final rule loosens up on a number of benchmarks necessary to qualify for the parole, responding to criticism that the proposed requirements were too restrictive. It allows for startups to use “alternative criteria” to demonstrate they’ll benefit the U.S. economy. The final rule also has more relaxed requirements for qualified investments, qualified investors and startup entities.

More precise information will be forthcoming prior to going in effect in the 180 days.


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