While the Trump Administration is making it more difficult and less attractive for entrepreneurs to start their businesses in the United States (in the name of “Buy American and Hire American”), other countries are rolling out the welcome mat to entrepreneurs.
In May 2018, the Administration proposed a rule to remove President Obama’s International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). While the IER is still in effect due to litigation brought by the National Venture Capital Association, no applications have been granted under the IER. The Administration likely will eliminate the IER soon after completing review of the public comments it received.
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Israel, Germany, Estonia, Australia, and New Zealand, are taking advantage of the attitude change in the U.S., offering start-up visas with eligibility requirements similar to the once-touted IER.
For instance, in Canada, founders of start-ups can become permanent residents in as little as 12 months. The key requirement is sponsorship by one of a group of pre-approved Canadian investor organizations. While the application is being reviewed, the entrepreneur may come to Canada and start working in temporary status. Mezyad Almasoud, a Kuwaiti national with a Yale University degree, thought he had “failed” when he realized he would not be able to stay in the United States to build his technology start-up. He moved his family and his business to Vancouver, where he is hiring Canadians.
The United Kingdom will launch its start-up visa in the spring of 2019. There, too, the entrepreneur must be endorsed by a university or an approved business sponsor. The United Kingdom plans to double the number of Exceptional Talent visas available in order to attract more highly skilled individuals.
Israel is offering a 24-month innovation visa that can lead to a special Expert Visa (extendable for another five years) with such perks as a $20,000 relocation bonus and Hebrew lessons.
Australia has a Venture Capital Entrepreneur process for people who have venture capital funding from members of the Australian Venture Capital Association Limited.
Finally, New Zealand offers an Entrepreneur Work Visa that can lead to residence in three years.
Same-sex couples and unmarried couples also are getting a warmer welcome in other countries, which are offering work permits to partners of skilled workers. This is happening just as the United States is cutting down on work authorization for spouses by moving toward eliminating H-4 EADs and denying visa to same-sex partners of U.N officials.
Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress to create a Start-Up visa. To date, those efforts have stalled.
Jackson Lewis will continue to follow Congressional efforts and the final fate of the IER.