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U.S. eases visa restrictions to attract foreign entrepreneurs for job growth

Posted on August 11, 2011
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday unveiled several initiatives to ease visa restrictions in order to attract more foreign entrepreneurs to launch start-up companies in the U.S., with an aim to spur job growth and jump-start the economy currently facing difficulties.

The initiatives, launched by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ( USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas, will make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain U.S. permanent residence, or green cards, by increasing the speed and efficiency in processing the applications.

The easing of visa restrictions is designed “to fuel the nation ‘s economy and stimulate investment by attracting foreign entrepreneurial talent of exceptional ability or who otherwise can create jobs, form startup companies, and invest capital in areas of high unemployment,” the DHS said in a statement.

“The United States must continue to attract the best and brightest from around the world to invest their talents, skills, and ideas to grow our economy and create American jobs,” said Napolitano. “Today’s announcements will help our nation fully realize the potential of existing immigration laws.”

The USCIS has published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document on its website to clarify its new policies on applications for the EB-2, H-1B and EB-5 and E13 visas by foreign entrepreneurs and investors, particularly in the high-tech sector, who intend to create start-up companies in the United States.

Among the new initiatives, foreign entrepreneurs can apply for the EB-2 immigrant visa without a specific job offer from an established company. Generally, an EB-2 visa petition requires a job offer and a Department of Labor certification. Now, these requirements can be waived if the applicant demonstrates that approval of the EB-2 visa petition would be in the national interest of the United States.

The USCIS is also seeking to bolster use by foreign entrepreneurs of H-1B nonimmigrant visas, which have been widely used by software companies and other business to hire foreign nationals with exceptional talent to fill certain specialty jobs. Generally, an employer-employee relationship has been a prerequisite for obtaining a H-1B visa, but now an entrepreneur can qualify for a H-1B visa if he is the sole owner of the petitioning company.

The EB-5 immigrant investor program, which provides green cards for foreign investors and their families if they invest at least 500,000 U.S. dollars in a U.S. project that generates at least 10 jobs, will also be enhanced.

The USCIS will further speed up the processing of EB-5 applications by transforming the intake and review process, including extending the availability of premium processing for certain EB-5 applications, establishing direct communication between applicants and the USCIS, and enabling applicants to make their case before a USCIS panel of experts to resolve outstanding issues in application. The USCIS is developing a phased plan to roll out these enhancements and is poised to begin implementing the first of these enhancements within 30 days.

In addition, the USCIS will expand its premium processing service to immigrant petitions for multinational executives and managers, often referred to as E13 visa, in order to speed up the processing of the applications. The agency is hiring additional adjudicators to evaluate the applications, the DHS statement.

These actions marked the six-month anniversary of Startup America, a White House-led initiative to reduce barriers and accelerate growth for America’s job-creating entrepreneurs. They have also been one key focus of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which has recommended taking actions to help ensure that the U.S. can out-innovate and out-compete the world in a global economy.

Currently, the U.S. economy is struggling from both a sluggish recovery and a budget crisis that has shaken confidence in the country, with a high unemployment rate hovering above 9 percent. Fearing damage to his chance of reelection in 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for boosting the U.S. economy with measures to aid job creation.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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