Thursday, January 12, 2017

Update on U.S. Visa Waivers for "International Entrepreneur"

Are you a foreign entrepreneur/innovator wanting to come work and grow your business in the U.S.?  The Visa Waiver for International Entrepreneurs is “almost” ready.

In August 2016, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, published a Proposed Rule that would enable the USCIS, on a discretionary basis, to admit foreign entrepreneurs of startup companies for temporary stays in the U.S. in order to grow their businesses.  Qualifying entrepreneurs would need to meet stringent requirements. The duration would be for an initial two years, with the possibility of renewal. 

The Proposed Rule was open to public comments until October 17, 2016.  After reviewing hundreds of comments, the USCIS issued a final International Entrepreneur Rule, with changes from the Proposed Rule.   This final Rule went to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review on December 29, 2016.  The OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) evaluates a final rule, typically within 90 days.  However, this OIRA review was completed very quickly by January 5, 2017, we think in anticipation of the expiration of the Obama Presidency on January 20, 2017.  Therefore we expect the final rule to be published shortly in the Federal Register.  It is likely that this Rule will be effective under the forthcoming Trump Administration.  However, pending actual publication, details of the final Rule remain confidential.

While President-Elect Trump might take steps to invalidate this “rule by executive penmanship,” we think President-Elect Trump will not object to this new rule.  His opposition to immigration has been focused on illegal immigrants, while he promotes entrepreneurship, jobs in America, tax-paying business operations and innovation.  Whatever its configuration, the new International Entrepreneur rule will be good for global startups as well as the American innovation eco-system.

Once we know more, we will keep you informed. 

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