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In an effort to grow the economy, the Obama administration proposed the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would allow foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the United States for up to five years in order to grow their startup businesses. The rule was supposed to go into effect in July of 2017, but was delayed under the current administration to 2018. According to news reports, on December 1, 2017, a federal judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security to rescind its delay of the rule.
The judge’s ruling was based on the fact that the Department of Homeland Security had not followed the proper procedure before delaying the implementation of the rule. Therefore, there is no guarantee that if the proper form is followed, a similar court ruling would result. In addition, the current administration has already indicated that it is unlikely to continue the rule, and will probably get rid of it all together.
Currently, entrepreneurs are eligible to stay in the United States under the rule if they can show that their admission and stay in the United States would provide a significant benefit for the country through business growth and job creation. Entrepreneurs who are allowed to stay in the country may not be eligible for other visas that would allow them to work in the United States, for example the H-1B visa, for which the entrepreneur would need to be an employee with an established company. Small business owners who have already established their businesses and owners of businesses that could not otherwise operate legally in the United States are not eligible to apply to stay under this rule.
If the rule is allowed to continue, or is implemented pending its cancellation in 2018, entrepreneurs and their immediate family members will be allowed to stay in the country with permission to work. However, it is not clear what the next move will be for the Department of Homeland Security. The Department may appeal the decision and cause further delay to the rule’s implementation, or simply get rid of the rule.
Additionally, although the judge ruled that the Department of Homeland Security should start accepting applications without further delay, there was no order to grant parole under the rule. There may be internal administrative hurdles that could practically frustrate the implementation of the rule. Being granted parole under the rule is a matter of discretion, and the rule does not operate in the same way as a traditional visa.
Foreign immigrants seeking to enter the United States may be eligible for other visas that could help them set up their businesses. For example, under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, foreign investors looking to invest in a commercial venture in the United States may be eligible for a green card.
Contact Us for More Information
If you are a foreign citizen looking to immigrate to the United States to pursue business opportunities that could benefit the country, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to experienced immigration attorney Nathan Wei from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California to discuss your options.
While some immigrants come to the United States to escape dangerous conditions in their countries, a great number of immigrants also come to the United States to seek economic opportunities through better jobs and sometimes owning their own businesses. Undocumented immigrants who want to start their own businesses may find the process straightforward, although it does not ultimately change their immigration status.
An undocumented immigrant starting a business is not something that is technically sanctioned by the law, and in some ways successfully opening the business as an immigrant is a matter of using certain loopholes in the law. Immigrants who want to open a business in the United States are required to obtain an EB-5 visa, which allows the immigrant to apply for a green card in exchange for investing anywhere from half a million to a million or more dollars in a business in the United States. Not many people can afford this type of visa, and therefore undocumented immigrants opt to go through other avenues.
The first and most obvious challenge to starting a business as an undocumented immigrant is the lack of a social security number. However, most undocumented immigrants overcome this by applying for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). In order to apply for a ITIN, a person has to submit some identifying documentation, such as birth certificate or a foreign passport.
ITINs are issued regardless of a person’s immigration status for purposes of filing taxes. This number cannot give a person work authorization in the United States in the same manner as a social security number. Once a person has an ITIN, he can apply for an employer identification number and set up a business.
With these numbers, an undocumented immigrant can apply for city and state licenses to ensure that the business is in compliance with local laws. However, even business owners who have otherwise followed the law on opening the business and paid all required taxes can be deported as easily as non-business owners who are in the country illegally.
An undocumented immigrant who chooses to open a business takes a chance that he or she can be deported at any time. For example, if the business is robbed, or an employee is attacked and the police are called in, the business owner takes the chance that his or her immigration status will come up, resulting in deportation. Business owners must also make sure that they pay all required taxes on the business income in order to avoid legal issues related to the nonpayment of taxes.
Financial challenges may also affect an undocumented immigrant’s ability to open a business. Because of his or her status, the person may not be able to qualify for a business loan or government grant, and has to rely on savings alone. This may mean that it could take a long time to raise the money it would take to launch a business, and therefore, it means deferring the dream of business ownership.
Let Us Help You with Your Immigration Problem
If you are in the country illegally, own a business, and are facing deportation, you need to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Business ownership does not have to act against you in a deportation proceeding. Contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to experienced immigration attorney Nathan Wei from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California for a consultation.