International Educator - May/June 2012 - 10
The Need for an Entrepreneur Visa
U.S. immigration law does not have a temporary visa or green card (permanent residence) category suitable for the typical foreign-born entrepreneur. While gaining approval for H-1B status as the founder/ CEO of a startup company has long been arduous, a 2010 policy memorandum released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made the situation worse.14 The memo was intended to restrict employers from leasing workers to other companies but had a much broader impact. Known as the Neufeld memo, it focuses on whether an employer “controls” the employee working on an H-1B visa. In a small policy change announced in August 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it would now permit H-1B temporary visas to be issued if an entrepreneur can show a board of directors “controls” him or her.15 However, since a founder is often also chairman of the board, or at least on the
Employers are skeptical the agency will change its ways but hope for the best.
board, it’s unknown how often the agency would approve an H-1B petition in such circumstances. Other visa categories are also problematic. An L-1 temporary visa (for intracompany transferees) could only be used to petition for an executive if the company has maintained an office abroad and the individual has worked a year or more outside the United States. An E-2 visa for treaty investors is designed as a temporary visa and its holder is assumed to not seek permanent residence in the United States. Moreover, the category is not available to nationals of all countries, most notably India and China. The EB-5 (employment-based fifth preference) immigrant investor visa also does not work for most foreign entrepreneurs.
To gain permanent residence (a green card) in that category, the person must invest either $1 million or $500,000 (if in a Regional Center) and create at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. Immigration attorneys say today the financing involved in a typical EB-5 case consists primarily of raising capital for existing projects rather than for starting new businesses. While U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ denials and policy pronouncements have been part of the problem for entrepreneurs, its director Alejandro Mayorkas hopes the agency will become part of the solution. At a gathering in Silicon Valley this year, Mayorkas announced an “Entrepreneurs in Residence” program that will enlist people from the private sector to “guide policy and training for officials who make decisions on individual immigration applications.”16 Employers are skeptical the agency will change its ways but hope for the best. Ultimately, the best solution would be for Congress to change the law and add a new
The University of Melbourne, Australia
Australian universities continue to experience growth in outbound education abroad participation rates, with none more so than the University of Melbourne. Essential to this growth is our commitment to the importance of education abroad as a valuable part of a student’s learning journey, and recognition of the role that students play in shaping a truly global Melbourne Experience. As the Australian leader* in education abroad, the University of Melbourne enables students to become globally engaged. Encouraged by curriculum integration and a key focus on increasing intercultural effectiveness, students have access to an ever increasing suite of education abroad opportunities that help to make us an international leader. Learn more about the education abroad opportunities through Melbourne Global Mobility, and the flexibility, choice and impact for students at: www.mobility.unimelb.edu.au
*Australian Universities International Directors’ Forum (AUIDF) 2011 Outbound Mobility Survey
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