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US offers green cards to foreign business owners

Posted on August 18, 2011
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To attract foreign investments to help their economy recover, the United States government is offering green cards to foreigners who will start or bring in a new business to the US.

According to a report of the “Filipino Reporter” last weekend, the US government is making it easier for foreign business owners to obtain a green card or permanent residency in the US.

The report quoted US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Alejandro Mayorkas as saying that no laws or visa regulations are being changed.

In the report, Mayorkas explained that the USCIS will highlight possible loopholes and waivers that will make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to obtain green cards, especially for those involved in high-tech industries.

He said agency staff are being trained to determine how visa rules apply differently to owners of startup businesses.

Business-minded applicants who can show that their work will be in America’s best interest will have their visa applications fast-tracked, Mayorkas said in the report.

He said previous requirements such as a job offer from an existing company and a certification from the US Department of Labor may no longer be necessary.

He was also quoted in the report as saying the initiative is “an important step forward” for the world’s No. 1 economy.

Visas for techies

Mayorkas said the rules can now be stretched so that techies who are the sole owner and only employee of their companies can petition for a visa by themselves.

However, applicants in such cases must have the backing of the startup’s shareholders or corporate board to qualify for a temporary work visa, known as H-1B.

On the other hand, the new policies are not likely to change quotas that only allot a certain number of work visas every year to highly skilled immigrants from a particular foreign country.

Such quotas are widely seen as creating long wait times for skilled workers, especially those from China and India.


The USCIS has also 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.

It also updated the H1-B guidelines to clarify that business owners on H1-B visas could work in the US for their own companies, provided that they work full-time.

The individual’s employment must also be decided by a corporate board or shareholders of the start-up company.

Foreign entrepreneurs can apply for the EB-2 visa without a specific job offer from an established company.

Generally, this visa category requires employers to go through a lengthy process called labor certification.

These requirements can now be waived if the applicant demonstrates to USCIS that their ventures are in the country’s best interest.

Visa program enhanced

The EB-5 visa program — which grants permanent residency to migrants investing at least $500,000 a US project that generates at least 10 jobs — will be enhanced with faster processing times.

This will be done by transforming the review process, having more flexible rules and establishing direct communication between applicants and the USCIS.

They are developing a plan to proceed these “enhancements” which they hope to implement “within 30 days,” the report said.

16 Aug 2011

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