Archive for the 'Investment Visa' Category

H1b for Entrepreneurs- New Developments Hopefully

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports on possible new developments for entrepreneurs using the H1b visa.  Read the full article here.  Thank you to the PSBJ and Emily Parkhurst for reporting on this important matter.

PSBJ 4.11.14

PSBJ 4.11.14




H4 work authorization soon? The White House is working on it!

On April 7th, the White House made several announcements including that current regulations will be reviewed to create new rules for work permits for spouses of certain H1b workers and to make visas for entrepreneurs more efficient using existing visas.  See below for text of the White House press release from the website. While this is promising news, and certainly within the authority of the President’s powers, we will be watching this space closely. For all my H4 and Startup clients and readers- sign up to our blog if you haven’t yet.  This news will be important for you. Stay tuned!


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

FACT SHEET: Strengthening Entrepreneurship At Home and Abroad

“Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America.”

– President Barack Obama, State of the Union, January 28, 2014

Entrepreneurs play a critical role in expanding the economy and creating jobs.  President Obama is committed to increasing the prevalence and success of entrepreneurs across the country, including through the White HouseStartup America initiative, an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to expand access to capital, accelerate innovation, and promote private sector efforts to strengthen the Nation’s startup communities.  The United States also runs and funds hundreds of programs to support entrepreneurs globally and maintains a broad coalition of governments, business people, civil society, investors, and academics to educate and support entrepreneurs around the world.

Building on these efforts, today the Administration is announcing a series of new steps to accelerate the success of entrepreneurs in the United States and across the globe:

Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship: Today, President Obama hosted the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE), a group of successful American businesspeople who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and  experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs at home and abroad. The group is chaired by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are also partners in this effort.

Attracting the World’s Best and Brightest: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon publish several proposed rules that will make the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness.  These proposed regulations include rules authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers. These measures build on continuing DHS efforts to streamline, eliminate inefficiency, and increase the transparency of the existing immigration system, such as by the launch ofEntrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States.

Accelerating Biomedical Entrepreneurs from Lab to Market:  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are launching a new collaboration to empower entrepreneurial scientists and address the critical gap between fundamental research and the development of a commercial entity.  Academic researchers and entrepreneurs who receive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from NIH will be eligible to pilot a new version of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program that is specially tailored for biomedical technologies.  This intensive, mentor-driven experience is changing the way that NSF-funded researchers think about the commercialization process.  NIH will also help scale up I-Corps by augmenting existing NIH-funded programs, such as the NIH Centers for Accelerated Innovation (NCAI), that focus on promising technologies developed by academic researchers.  Faculty and students who participate in these new I-Corps programs will receive mentorship opportunities, entrepreneurial training, and modest funding to enable them to move their ideas from the lab to the market.

Energizing Entrepreneurs to Help End Extreme Poverty: Fostering entrepreneurs and strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems are vital elements of USAID’s newly launched U.S. Global Development Lab (The Lab).  The Lab will empower a global network of individuals to help create, solve and scale innovative solutions to global challenges by applying rigorous scientific, business, research, and technological expertise. In the next five years, scientists and technology experts at The Lab will create a new global marketplace of innovations and take them to scale to reach over 200 million people worldwide. The Lab is pioneering open-source development models like Development Innovation Ventures and Grand Challenges that nurture new solvers and players in emerging markets and spurring innovation. The Lab is expanding a Global Development Alliance furthering LGBT equality through entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprise growth in Latin America.  A new USAID Research and Innovation Fellowships Program will send more than 60 young U.S. leaders in science and technology to universities, NGOs, and companies in 12 developing countries this year.

Bolstering Exchanges and Training for Entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere: This fall, the State Department will host TechCamps for women in El Salvador, Colombia, and Argentina. These camps will bring together hundreds of women across the region over the course of the year and provide them training to address key challenges in business formation, from financing to marketing. Additionally, the State Department will be launching two new exchange programs for entrepreneurs in the Western hemisphere. The Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA) Fellowship Program will connect incubators across the hemisphere to share best practices in entrepreneurial development and unlock market access for small businesses across the region. The Professional Fellows Program will bring Salvadorian, Guatemalan, and American officials together for a six-week internship and training program focuses on professional development, problem-solving, and networking.

E2 visa now available to citizens of Israel

Image courtesty of internet

Image courtesty of internet

The E2 visa, which is country specific Treaty Trader visa, was extended to citizens of Israel in 2012 by the US government. However, that needed to be approved by the Israeli government too.  On March 30, 2014, the government of Israel finally  approved the Treaty provisions and as of this week, citizens of Israel can apply for the E2 visa.

The E2 visa will give those citizens one more option to live and work in the US, while bringing much needed investment into the US with promise of more job creation.

Watson Immigration Law assists with E2 visas frequently and would be happy to help with these visas.

H1b Lottery: Puget Sound Business Journal Says It Best!

While it may be April Fool’s today, it is indeed a very serious day for American businesses trying to hire highly skilled workers.  As my clients anxiously wait to see if they will ‘win’ the lottery- never has it been clearer we need immigration reform- we need it for American businesses, we need it for economic growth- we need it for America.

Puget Sound Business Journal highlights this issue today in their headline story.  Thank you to Puget Sound Business Journal and Reporter Emily Parkhurst for covering this important issue that is affecting businesses locally and nationwide.

Image courtesy of PSBJ website.

Image courtesy of PSBJ website.

Tahmina to Speak at King County Bar Association CLE on Immigration for Startups

We are proud to announce that Tahmina will be speaking on immigration issues for Startups at a CLE by King County Bar Association titled: ADVISING STARTUPS IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA ERA – U.S. & ABROAD.  Below is a copy of the program. For anyone interested in issues related to startups, this is a great CLE to attend- whether you are a lawyer or an entreprenur. check out the full brochure here- KCBA startup visa CLE and register before they sell out!

KCBA startup visa CLE_Page_1 border


Immigrant Investor Visas: One Man’s loss is Many Men’s Gain.

Immigrant Investor Visas: One Man’s loss is Many Men’s Gain.

Image courtesy of the internet

Image courtesy of the internet

My regular readers may recall my recent article about the global competition over wealthy investors.  Indeed there is such a competition. Except, one country surprisingly stepped out of the race- Canada.

On February 11, 2014 , Canada announced that it is terminating their long established immigration investor visas which had about 60,0000 applications pending for several years.  A large number of those investors were Chinese citizens.  Instead, Canada would like to focus more on the newly created Start up visa (another interesting article for a later time!).

I can only imagine the disappointment of the investors who had been waiting to immigrate. One of my own clients told me his parents were affected by this news. So, where will these investors go?

Well, just because Canada doesn’t want them, doesn’t mean other countries do not. In fact, the competition is as fierce as ever.

Let’s take Australia for example. Australia’s Significant Visa is already a success. It has processed over 100 visas since it launched in 2012 and has an influx of applications.  Now the country is trying to speed up the process.   The UK saw a record number of Chinese investors in 2013 and recently has been discussing auctioning investor visas. Portugal’s Golden Visa is a raging success which is being emulated in several countries in Europe.

While wealthy investors have the world quite as their ‘oyster’, it is likely many may still choose to apply to the US.  This is because most who choose to apply to Canada, choose between the US and Canada.  With Canada out of the race, the United States will likely be the winner.

The EB5 visa in the US remains a popular visa and significantly cheaper than Australia’s 5 million (almost $4.5 million USD) and UK’s 1 million GBP (almost $2 million USD) threshold. The EB5 visa requires either $500,000 USD in a targeted employment area or otherwise $1 million USD.

We hope Canada’s loss is a gain for the US more than any other country.

**Copyright 2014 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Watson Immigration Law is happy to discuss EB5 visas with anyone interested esp. if you have been affected by Canada’s visa program termination. 

EB5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program Update from USCIS

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

The USCIS held a stakeholder meeting today discussing updates on the EB5 program and current state of affairs.  The EB5 program Director Nicholas Colucci spoke extensively about the new office, staff and visions. Watson Immigration Law would like to thank the USCIS and Mr. Colucci for taking the time for this open discussion and the updates.

Processing venue: EB5 Investor Visa office is now located and fully operational in Washington DC.  I-924s and I-526 petitions will be processed in DC.  I-829 and related adjustment petitions will continue to be processed at the California Service Center.  There are currently 53 staff members including 20 economists and 25 adjudicators.  85% of personnel have advanced degrees and law degrees.

Processing times: As of January 31, 2014, EB processing times are as follows:  I-526 applications are taking 11 month, I-924s are taking 12 months and I-829s are taking 11 months. The USCIS will be updated soon to reflect accurate processing times.  Mr. Colucci said that in the near future, there will be an increase in processing times because CSC is losing 35 adjudicators from the EB5 program but they will be replaced and trained soon.

Program statistics:  for Fiscal year 2013:  I-924: start of the fiscal year- 504 pending; end of the fiscal year 300 pending, 207 approved, 32 denied and 236 received RFEs.  Approved 6346 I-526 petitions and approved I-829 approved 418.  They gave full statistics that will be posted to USCIS’ website soon.

ELIS filing: Recently online filing of I-526 was initiated and the program would like to utilize online filing more.  It is hoped online filing will help things be more efficient.

Regional center library: It is hoped that a new document library will be available for regional centers.  The Office of Transformation will hold a webinar on that soon.

Filing tips: we were grateful to receive invaluable filing tips which included NOT to send duplicate petitions.

Revising EB5 Regulations: Based on the Inspector General’s recent report and for general fraud prevention and national security reasons, the EB5 regulations will be revised in the near future.  In due course regulatory changes will be published for comments.

Personnel at the EB5 office: He hopes to increase staff to 100 soon to deal with backlogs and make the program more efficient. The hope is to hire adjudicators and have them trained in 5 weeks. There will also be biweekly meetings for adjudicators and economists to discuss cases.

In sum: Mr. Colucci hopes to achieve 3 things for his office:

  1. Develop an efficient office.
  2. A more predictable program.
  3. Enhance customer service.

The meeting included questions and answers to various issues from many lawyers and regional centers.  Thank you again to USCIS for the invalauble information shared today that will benefit our clients.

**Copyright 2014 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Startup Visa CLE- Great Success


The (Potential) Startup Visa and State of Immigration Reform presentation this morning was a huge success. Thanks to everyone who attended and to the Seattle Select Attorneys for organzing the event.

Register for Tahmina’s Presentation on the Startup Visa and Immigration Reform!

Seattle Select Attorneys” will be holding the following event on Tuesday 28th, 2014 at 8:30-9:45am.  Join if you can!

The (potential) Startup Visa and the State of Immigration Reform


Please RSVP to join Seattle Select Attorneys at our next breakfast seminar:

Ø  When:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014, from 8:30 to 9:45 am

Ø  Where:

Short Cressman & Burgess PLLC

999 Third Avenue, Suite 3000

Seattle, Washington 98104-4088

This is the Wells Fargo building with the big pink and green flower sculpture out front.

This month’s seminar will feature Tahmina Watson with:

The (potential) Startup Visa and the State of Immigration Reform

Summary of the seminar:

This presentation will cover the two versions of the Startup Visa Act/Entrepreneur Visa as described by the Senate bill S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act that passed in June 2013 and House bill S.2131 The SKILLS Visa Act as reported out of the committee. Both bills introduce a brand new visa category for entrepreneurs starting new companies commonly known as the Startup Visa and EB6 Visa. Tahmina Watson is a leading authority on the potential visa. Her work on the topic has been published in The Entrepreneur Magazine and Bloomberg Businessweek. In addition, her work has been referred to in a study conducted by The Competitive Enterprise Institute based in Washington DC titled “America Still Needs a True Entrepreneurship Visa” authored by David Bier. The presentation will also cover the current state of immigration reform and what non-immigration lawyers should be aware of for their practices.

One (1) WSBA CLE credit is pending for this course. We will provide a light breakfast and the opportunity to network with fellow Seattle-area lawyers. There is no cost for SSA members to attend. The cost for guests is $20.00, payable by check to Seattle Select Attorneys or PayPal on our website: .  If you have not yet paid your membership dues, this is a GREAT time to do so!

About the speaker:

Tahmina Watson obtained her law degree and graduated from Brunel University, London, England in 2000. After completing her pupillage (apprenticeship) from Bridewell Chambers in London in 2004, Tahmina continued as a practicing barrister, handling mainly criminal defense matters, before relocating to the United States in 2005. She continues to be affiliated with Temple Court Chambers in London as a Door Tenant. Tahmina was admitted to the New York Bar in 2006 and since has been practicing exclusively in the area of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization law in Seattle, Washington. She is a frequent author and blogger on immigration law matters. She is regularly quoted and published in various newspapers and magazines Her blog Watson Immigration Law Blog has gained significant reputation over the years. . She has been a staunch advocate for immigration reform in recent years with a particular focus on advocating for the Startup visa. She had the privilege of helping Senator Moran’s office draft amendments to the Senate version of the Startup visa in 2013. Tahmina is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, is often published in AILA publications and is a Co-Chair of a new committee she helped create called “AILA Washington Parents.” She is also a member of the New York State Bar Association, the Bar in England & Wales, The International Bar Association and various minority bar associations. She proudly served as the 2009-2010 President of the King County Washington Women Lawyers (KCWWL). She served on the board of Washington Women Lawyers from 2008-2010. In past years, she also served on the board of the Asian Bar Association of Washington. While juggling her practice, Tahmina is mummy to two little adorable girls- 18 months old Sarina and almost 4 years old Sofia.

While debates continue on illegal immigration, the wealthy and talented go elsewhere.

While debates continue on illegal immigration, the wealthy and talented go elsewhere.

-Tahmina Watson

Startup Act Blog picRecently history shows the world competing for the wealthy and the talented reaffirming the importance of immigrants. The wealthy, predominantly Chinese, are being enticed by the privilege of working and living in the best places.  Governments are vying for the talented, making every effort to ensure the next Facebook is created in their country.

Countries are focused on immigrants who can: (1) buy a house (2) invest millions of dollars or (3) start a business.  While we have a decent investor visa option, we lack the other two. That means we are losing out on the opportunity for economic growth.  The US is nonchalant that people from around the globe actually still want to live in the US.

Immigration reform is key to boosting our economy.  All three of the above visas must be included in any comprehensive reform proposal.

Let’s revisit recent developments.

In November 2012, Australia launched the newly created “Significant Visa,” allowing residency to anyone with an investment of $AUD 5 million.  In May 2013, Australia issued its first ‘Significant Visa’ and since then, the visa has garnered much interest and Australia is in the process of fast tracking these cases.[1]

Appreciating the appeal, in April 2013, Canada implemented its very own “Startup Visa Act”.  While the US high-tech industry has been green with envy with our neighbor’s new visa, Canada had no problem crossing the border to taunt us with their innovative achievement.  They even went to our technology hub, Silicon Valley, to poach our brightest entrepreneurs!  The head-hunting push began with an eye-catching billboard boasting the phrase “Pivot to Canada” followed by a visit from the Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenny.  Canada issued its first Startup Visa in September 2013[2]  and continues to make improvements to the program.[3]

Canada and Australia are not alone in their efforts: the UK is constantly reinventing their immigration laws and are not afraid of trial and error.  In 2012, the UK launched their well utilized Tier One Entrepreneur Visa which was further amended in January 2013. In October 2013, the UK announced relaxed visa rules for Chinese citizens enabling easier investments.

Speaking of China, this is probably the only country that actively discourages entrepreneurs.  The Chinese government recently tightened immigration rules..[4] With a rapidly growing economy, attracting immigrants in the same way as other nations is not important.

Back in Europe, Portugal implemented the “Gold Visa” allowing residence if one purchases a house for at least €500,000.[5]  The visa has already proven popular, particularly with the Chinese. Spain also created a similar visa for people who purchase properties worth €500,000.  Called the “Spanish Golden Visa” or “Spanish Entrepreneur Visa” this visa is giving the country a much needed financial boost.[6]

A few years ago, New Zealand relaxed their laws to allow people with $NZD 10 million to qualify for residency. Only the crème-de-la-crème will do, thank you.

In 2010, Chile implemented their “Startup Chile” program to attract the world’s talented entrepreneurs.  The unique program, funded by the government has generated much financial growth, job creation and other positive effects.[7]  Brazil recently replicated the model creating “Startup Brazil.”[8]

So where is the US in this battle for the wealthy and the talented? Well, we have two investor visas: the EB-5 and the E-2 visas.  The EB-5  provides residency to people who invest a minimum of $500,000 with proof that 10 jobs were created with the investment in two years.  Unsurprisingly, a large percentage of users are from China.  Created in 1990, the program is not permanent. S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which passed the Senate in June this year, will  make the program permanent.

The E-2 visa allows only temporary work permission and has other limitations.  First, the visa restrict citizens from certain “treaty” countries. Secondly, it does not provide residency, leading to insecurity for those who want to grow their businesses.

What about ‘buy a house to get a green card’? A bill to that effect was touted in the US generating huge interest from around the globe in 2012. However, the bill did not go far.  Those provisions are included in the S.744 immigration bill.  It will likely attract a variety of wealthy people in due course.

The entrepreneur category represents the epitome of the loss for the US.  While it is unquestionably necessary, we still do not have an Entrepreneur Visa. S.744 includes two new visas for entrepreneurs[9] which the US desperately needs so that entrepreneurs do not leave with their talent.

Only with immigration reform we can really join the battle to attract and retain the wealthy and the talented, which is key to economic growth for the US economy.

The majority of Americans want immigration reform.  House GOP- let’s get it done!

[9] See


*Copyright 2013 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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