If President Barack Obama is successful, an innovative work visa program will soon be underway to help encourage business startups in the U.S. The White House says the new provision, called the International Entrepreneur Rule, won't just help individuals continue to build their businesses, but it will also economically strengthen American communities.
The newly proposed Homeland Security rule, now in comment period, could help as many as 2,100 immigrants per year stay in the country while they expand or improve their businesses. It essentially uses existing provisions to help broaden opportunities for entrepreneurs who can demonstrate solid investments and partnership/ownership in existing businesses.
Under the new rule, applicants must meet the following criteria:
Not everyone who has a successful business will be eligible for the parole. Some small businesses thrive without substantial injections of capital or loans, subsisting instead on a handful of employees, or as a small sole proprietorship. This new rule is geared toward assisting those business owners who can demonstrate that their store, restaurant, service, firm or other business is providing significant public benefit to his or her community that can be tracked through capital investment, job creation or new revenue.
Still, say supporters, it's a step toward immigration reform and toward acknowledging that immigrants -- both individuals who arrived through legal processes and those who do not have documentation to support their stay, have contributed substantially to the country's growth and potential in recent years. The Obama administration says it is also a nod to the fact that U.S. business infrastructure has by and large, been built by immigrants.
"Immigrant entrepreneurs have always made exceptional contributions to America’s economy, in communities all across the country," the White House state in a press release. "Immigrants have helped start as many as one of every four small businesses and high-tech startups across America, and the majority of high-tech startups in Silicon Valley." Furthermore, says the administration, studies suggest that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants."
The rule is meant to complement a number of other provisions including Entrepreneur Pathways, which helps entrepreneurs navigate the immigration system, and Entreprenurs in Residence, an earlier program that helped pair USCIS with expertise that could help the government create clear pathways and policies that met the needs and abilities of business owners and other potential immigrants.
"The notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register invites public comment for 45 days, after which USCIS will address the comments received. The proposed rule does not take effect with the publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking. It will take effect on the date indicated in the final rule when a final rule is published in the Federal Register," reports the USCIS.
More information can be obtained by visiting www.uscis.gov.
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.