Amid high joblessness, U.S. looks to attract foreign entrepreneurs
The Obama administration is taking steps to attract foreign entrepreneurs to the U.S. in an effort to create jobs and boost the sputtering economic recovery.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Monday that it’s making changes to internal policies to make it easier for entrepreneurs from overseas to gain legal permanent residence or acquire work visas so that they can establish companies in the United States.
The agency billed it as an easy way to provide a jolt to an economy that has an unemployment rate over 9 percent. The unemployment rate among Latinos is even higher, at 11.6 percent.
“All of these clarifications that are done today is with the intent to impact the American economy and create jobs in the United States,” Edna Ruano, communications chief for USCIS, said in an interview with Univision News.
The move comes amid a troubling trend for foreign entrepreneurs: they’re leaving the country in great numbers, especially those seeking to establish high-tech enterprises.
President Obama and members of Congress have been pushing for such changes for some time.
Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced legislation this year that would reduce the requirements for those wishing to establish start-ups in the U.S., but the measure has failed to gain traction in the gridlocked Senate.
But the USCIS claimed that they are making “clarifications” their own guidelines, not altering existing law, and thus the initiatives would not need to go through Congress.
“All that the announcement covers today is from an operational perspective,” said Ruano. “There is no legislative change involved.”
The new initiatives would make it easier for applicants to acquire to E2-B green card visas, “if they can demonstrate that their business endeavors will be in the interest of the United States,” according to Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the USCIS. Applicants would not need an actual job offer to qualify.
Sole entrepreneurs can now become eligible for H1-B visas, a temporary work visa, if their employment is approved by the board of directors of a start-up.
Thirdly, USCIS is looking to boost the underutilized EB-5 visas, which applies to investors who lay out at least $500,000 for a U.S. enterprise that creates at least 10 jobs.
Only about half of the 10,000 EB-5 visas available annually are used, according to Computer World. In addition, applications for H1-B visas, which are targeted at foreigners who work in a specialty, have fallen by about 5,000 compared to last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Today is basically perfect timing,” said Ruano. “We have actually heard from these individuals and as a result we are taking action today … so that way they are able to maximize the potential that exists within our immigration laws.”