The ‘start-up visa’ may vanish before anyone gets one

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

The International Entrepreneur Rule, which goes into effect on July 17, is referred to by many as the “start-up visa.” It’s a special visa established in the final few hours of Barack Obama’s time in office and it encourages immigrant entrepreneurs to stay in the United States (after all, over half of venture-backed companies are reportedly founded by immigrants.) The ruling extends the time for immigrants to stay (30 months, with the opportunity for a 30-month extension) in order to grow their businesses and work until they (hopefully) receive a more permanent immigration status.

The visa isn’t easy to come by.  Entrepreneurs, who must own at least 10 percent of their company, also have to show how they’ll contribute to economic growth and job creation here in the United States. The immigrant entrepreneur also needs to attract a minimum of $250,000 from a “reputable investor” in order to qualify. It’s not a new concept–other countries, like Australia, Canada, Chile, Ireland and New Zealand, have similar programs. Here in the U.S. about 3,000 entrepreneurs would likely qualify.

Well, not so fast.

According to this report from the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFgate website, the Office of Management and Budget is now taking a harder look at the ruling–and some are worried that the program may be delayed, amended or even discontinued before it even gets started. There a draft executive order that’s been leaked which suggests that President Trump may get rid of the ruling. It’s just a draft and no official policy has been released. But it’s making some experts dubious of the rule’s future–and raising alarm not only among immigrant entrepreneurs but companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, that rely on them.

William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told SFGate it’s “extraordinarily common” for a new administration to take a look at all rulings that haven’t yet taken effect but is concerned because “…the fact that it got pulled back seems to indicate that people within the administration are interested in taking a second look at the rule,” he said.

Many are hoping that the rule will stand, particularly because it encourages start-ups and job creation and aligns with the economic goals of this business-oriented administration. But others fear the “populist, xenophobic strand in this administration,” Stock told SFGate.

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