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USCIS taking applications for so-called startup visa

Entrepreneurs that reside in Pennsylvania but were born outside the United States may be able to apply for temporary residency under a new category. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is accepting applications under the Obama-era International Entrepreneur Rule. The IER allows foreign-born entrepreneurs to live in the U.S. while developing and growing startup companies. Along the way, the applicants are required to meet specific benchmarks, which are meant to make success more likely.

The IER has sometimes been referred to as a startup visa, but it technically is not a visa. Rather, it is a parole period during which foreign-born individuals without visas are allowed to live in the U.S. The program was structured in this way as a workaround by former President Obama when Congress failed to pass immigration reform. Congress is the only government branch with the authority to create new paths to citizenship and categories of visa.

The Trump administration attempted to eliminate the IER before it ever became operative. The rule was originally meant to become effective in July 2017, but the start date was delayed by a Trump executive order. The rule was ordered to be implemented only after the National Venture Capital Association filed suit in federal court. A judge with the District Court for the District of Columbia found for the NVCA and ordered USCIS to recognize the rule despite the executive order issued by President Trump.

Individuals can, therefore, submit applications under the IER, but USCIS has said it still has plans to rescind the rule. Individuals who have questions about the paths to obtaining a visa or securing U.S. citizenship may want to consult an attorney. A lawyer with experience in immigration law may be able to help by examining the facts of the situation and suggesting visa options that are more likely to be successful. An attorney might draft and file necessary legal documents or argue on behalf of his or her client during hearings with government officials.

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