Posts Tagged 'immigrant entrepreneur'

CNN Discusses the Startup Visa

cnnmoney article stillToday, CNNMoney reported on one of our favorite subjects, the Startup Visa. Reporter Sara O”Brian discusses specific examples of talented people moving to Canada to launch their startups since they were unable to do so in the US due to immigration obstacles. We are honored that the article provides a link to this blog.  Thank you CNNMoney for covering this important issue and raising awareness.  Here is a link to the article. 

We Need Better Immigration Policies for Startups and Entrepreneurs

 We Need Better Immigration Policies for Startups and Entrepreneurs

- Tahmina Watson

“USCIS intends to revoke your H-1B visa because we have discovered you are a co-founder.” Yes. That is indeed what my client learned one morning.  USCIS learned during the renewal process of my client’s previously approved H-1B case that he was an original co-founder.  While my client never intended to hide it, the information was not specifically mentioned in the initial filing.  After a series of requests for further evidence, the final request was regarding the relationship between my client and his company.

My client, a co-founder of his company – who has garnered much praise in the tech industry, employs seven full-time American workers, and has helped create several indirect jobs by virtue of those who use and sell his product – was facing imminent departure from the U.S. His business, business partner, employees, and clients all were also put into limbo as a result.

Why? Don’t we want companies to start here? Well, currently, U.S. immigration law does not have a specific visa category for Startup founders, and the available visa options are far from ideal.  A very strict policy was laid down in a memo on January 8, 2010 by Donald Neufeld, Associate Director of Service Center Operations of USCIS. That memo made some drastic changes in the way H-1B cases would be adjudicated and put immense restrictions on the employer-employee relationship, causing adverse effects to petitions by founders.

To successfully apply for an H-1B as a co-founder, one must categorically prove that the company controls the founder’s employment.  To prove such control, the USCIS expects an onerous amount of corporate documentation, including articles of incorporation, board meeting minutes, shareholder agreements, stock ledgers, etc.

It was my privilege to help my client win this case.  As a team, we brainstormed the type of documentation he would be able to provide.  We decided to send many internal, otherwise confidential, documentation to demonstrate he was always given direction in his work and he was not the one making decisions.  We submitted emails, client contracts, employee information, payroll evidence, references and much more.  It was a challenging request to say the least.

Startups by their nature operate lean and mean.  Startup founders/entrepreneurs are known to work around the clock to ensure their products are successful.  In the efforts to have a successful company, they have employees to supervise and clients to keep happy.  Instead of using all his energy to build the business, my client was anxious and worried about providing enough of the right kind of information to respond to a challenging and burdensome request.  I am sure that during this intense period, my client suffered loss both emotionally and financially.

Lessening the efficiency of a person while they’re trying to get a business off the ground makes no sense. One should not have to defend oneself for being a founder of a company; it should be a matter of pride.  Luckily we were able to successfully demonstrate that his employment was controlled by the company.  Many founders are not so lucky and end up cut off from the start up they helped create by our irrational immigration laws.

We cannot have rhetoric from our government that calls for entrepreneurs and the need to keep high-skilled workers in the U.S., while that same government acts against implementing that ideology.

In the absence of a Startup Visa, I suggest that two changes are made to existing policy with immediate effect.  Firstly, eliminate the use of the Neufeld Memo, at least for founders and co-founders of startups utilizing H-1B visas.  Founders need to operate their businesses.  Often they will have many roles in addition to their primary H-1B job description.  For example, as a business owner, I am not only a lawyer, but a human resources manager, marketing manager, bookkeeper, supervisor and countless others.  To have my company control my job would impede my success.

Secondly, allow the use of cash substitutes such as stock valuation, convertible notes, and other such regularly used methods instead of cash wages.  Startups generally cannot afford high wages, particularly in the early stages.  They need the opportunity to get their companies to the stage where funding can be obtained from investors.  While the policy argument against cash substitutes may be fear of the entrepreneur becoming a public charge, USCIS should impose policy to prevent that and revoke someone’s visa if he or she resorts to public assistance.  Entrepreneurs are resourceful people who do not want handouts from the system.  Give them the chance to start their companies, contribute to the economy, and create jobs for American workers.  After all, America is a nation of immigrants.

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

President Proclaims November 2013 National Entrepreneurship Month!

President Obama proclaimed that November 2013 will be the National Entrepreneurship Month and that November 22 will be National Entrepreneurship Day.  In an official news wire, the White House released news that President Obama’s above proclamation was made on October 31, 2013.  Here is a link to the website.  Below is a copy of the text for easy reference.  It provides a good summary of what the Administration has done thus far to help entrepreneurship/businesses.  I hope this helps towards the argument that a Startup Visa is crucial for the United States.

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Presidential Proclamation — National Entrepreneurship Month, 2013

Washington, D.C. (United States) (OFFICIAL WIRE) October 31, 2013

NATIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP MONTH, 2013

- – – – – – -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

The entrepreneurial spirit has always been at the heart of our Nation’s story. With inventions that changed American life and startups that lifted our economy as they grew, entrepreneurs helped make our country what it is today. During National Entrepreneurship Month, we celebrate America’s innovators, support small businesses, and empower entrepreneurs to turn their visions into reality.

America is home to a long and storied line of immigrants who sought opportunity on our shores — from entrepreneurs of the industrial revolution to startup founders of the digital age. This June, the Senate passed a commonsense immigration reform bill that would provide startup visas for immigrant entrepreneurs; eliminate backlogs for employment-based visas; and remove visa caps for those with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These principles are consistent with ensuring our country remains a land of opportunity while fostering economic growth and innovation.

For the benefit of our Nation, we must remove undue barriers that would prevent entrepreneurs from venturing out on their own. The Affordable Care Act provides opportunities for those who lack employer-based insurance to obtain quality affordable care. This gives aspiring small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs the freedom to pursue their ideas and keep their families covered. This year, I signed an Executive Order making Government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs as fuel for innovation and economic growth. Hundreds of companies and nonprofits are using this data to develop new products and services. They are creating jobs of the future in national priority industries such as health, energy, and education. We have also worked to support social entrepreneurship at home and around the world, and in January, my Administration organized the first-ever White House Tech Inclusion Summit — where experts launched initiatives to give more Americans the opportunity to learn vital technology skills.

We continue to build on programs that help entrepreneurs get ahead. Since taking office, I have signed 18 small business tax cuts into law, and, as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, I extended several tax incentives to help small businesses prosper. Under last year’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, the American people will soon be able to use regulated crowdfunding websites to invest in promising startups, social enterprises, and small businesses. The White House Startup America initiative remains dedicated to cutting red tape and accelerating innovation from the lab to the marketplace. Entrepreneurs across the country are receiving vital information about Federal Government services at www.Business.USA.gov and are competing to solve important national problems at www.Challenge.gov.

To promote entrepreneurship throughout the world, I have called on the international community to increase transparency and accountability while rooting out corruption, and in 2010, my Administration organized the first annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. During this year’s summit, the State Department announced its partnership to help double the impact of UP Global — an organization dedicated to providing entrepreneurs at home and abroad with the resources, skills, and connections to thrive. Finally, we will soon announce the inaugural members of the President’s Committee on Global Entrepreneurship, a group of some of America’s most successful entrepreneurs who will commit to mentoring the next generation.

Our Nation is strongest when we broaden entrepreneurial opportunity, when more of us can test our ideas in the global marketplace, and when the best innovations can rise to the top. We all have a role to play — from colleges and universities that cultivate hubs of innovation, to large companies that collaborate with small businesses, to foundations that support both social enterprises and high-impact startups seeking to solve the grand challenges of our time. As we observe this month and celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, let us come together and help aspiring entrepreneurs take a chance on themselves and their visions for a brighter future.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2013 as National Entrepreneurship Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 22, 2013, as National Entrepreneurs’ Day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Tahmina quoted and referenced in study by Competitive Enterprise Institute!

Startup Act Blog picThe Competitive Enterprise Insitute based in Washington DC released a study titled “America Still Needs a True Entrepreneurship Visa” authored by David Bier.  The study discusses the need for a visa for immigrant entrepreneurs.  It also analyses the Invest Visa provisions as laid out in the Senate bill (S.744) and the Entrepreneur Visa provisions in the SKILLs Visa Act.  We are very proud and honored that reference was made to our articles and work authored by Tahmina Watson (make sure you check out the footnotes!).  We are also honored that Tahmina was quoted several times.  Thank you David Bier and CEI for the honor.

Our regular readers will know that Watson Immigration Law is passionate about the Startup Visa Act and has been a strong advocate on the issue.  We commend CEI for taking the time to prepare such an important study.

We want to remind our readers that all shortcomings of the Invest Visa provisions were addresses by way of an amendment filed by Senator Moran’s office.  Our readers will remember that an amendment was filed after much hard work by Senator Moran’s office, our office, Craig Montuori and Munly Leong, founders of http://www.startupvisa.com.  The amendment, though filed, was not heard before the Senate passed the bill.   Our efforts are ongoing nevertheless and we hope in due course we can formally address the  shortcomings again.  Here is our previous blogpost as a reminder of those events.  

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty. Our mission is to promote both freedom and fairness by making good policy good politics. We make the uncompromising case for economic freedom because we believe it is essential for entrepreneurship, innovation, and prosperity to flourish (copied from their website).  You can read more about CEI here or visit http://www.cei.org.

Tahmina to Speak on Startup Visa/EB6 visa at ‘Invest in America’ Conference in Miami

It is with great honor that I accept an invitation to speak about the potential EB6 visa at a conference organized by the Minority Chambers of Commerce Miami. The conference will be held in Miami, Florida on August 2nd, 2013.  I am honored to have beeen invited alongside some eminent and distinguished personalities in the field of immigration law and investment visas. Thank you Minority Chambers of Commerce of Miami.

Preliminary Agenda- Invest in America

Preliminary Agenda- Invest in America

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See our update from this event! 

Senator Moran Files Amendments To The Invest Visa Provisions For Senate Floor (Startup Act/X-visa/EB6)

Senator Moran has been a champion and advocate for jump starting the economy through the Startup Visa Act. He introduced the Startup Act in past years and has worked relentlessly to make it a reality.  As we have seen, the Startup Visa Act provisions were included in the broader bill for comprehensive immigration reform.  Now called Invest Visa, Senator Moran promised to improve the provisions.  On May 22, 2013, he spoke at the Senate about his intention to file such amendments. See video below. True to his word, Senator Moran and his hardworking office, filed the amendments today.

Watson Immigration Law is proud to have had the extreme privilege to assist the Senator’s office with these amendments. We are grateful to have had the opportunity.  I thank Senator Moran and his very able to staff for taking the initiative and for their dedication to this issue. Now the waiting begins for the debate and counting votes! Please call your Senator’s office and ask them to vote yes to these amendments!

Invest Visa/Entrepreneur Visa Chart (Startup Visa, EB6, X-visa)


The newly proposed Invest Visa, formerly known as the Startup Visa, creates two new visa categories: X-visa and EB6 visa.  Here is a visual aid to understanding it better. In my opinion, this is an important and commendable addition to the bill.  See today’s Wall Street Journal article on the topic. http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2013/06/05/why-vcs-and-foreign-founders-want-the-entrepreneur-visa/

Here is a chart I created to help summarize the provisions. So many people have asked me about this that the chart should give a good easy overview of the new visas.  I still believe some amendments are necessary.  More to come on that in the next few weeks, stay tuned! We would love to hear from you if you have thoughts about the Invest Visa.  In addition, if you want to support these provisions, then please email me.  We would love to hear from you.

CIR invest visa chart FINAL

Startup Visa Act (Invest Visa) workshop a success!

On Monday May 13, 2013, our Startup Law Talk workshop was on the Startup Act/Invest Visa provisions. We had a good turn out and a really lively discussion!! Members of the local startup community joined us to learn about the provisions and discuss the details. I learned more about the business of being a startup. I also learned more about investors investing in a startup. We had a couple of important guests join us on Google Hangout for a short while.  Thank you Craig Montouri and Munly Leong from http://www.Startupvisa.com for joining us!   Thank you also to everyone who attended, for showing your support and sharing your thoughts and opinions.

startuplawtalk workshop may 13, 2013

Startup Law Talk Workshop

Stuck on H1b, F1 or Other Visa? Want Your Own Startup? Newly Proposed Startup Act (Invest Visa) May help! Come Learn More!

A bill for Comprehensive Immigration reform “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” was released two weeks ago.  The bill specifically addresses provisions for the Startup Act that many of us have been waiting for.  Named the “Invest Visa”, the provision seeks to provide visas for immigrant entrepreneurs starting companies in the US. If you feel stuck on your H1b, F1 or other visa but are desperate to have your own startup, the Invest Visa (Startup Visa Act) will create that path for you. 

Please come and learn about the provisions, discuss the details and make suggestions to improve the provisions so that YOU can benefit from it.  We hope to have some subject-matter experts join us to discuss the bill too. Here are some links:

1. Summary of provisions:  http://watsonimmigration.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/startup-visa-provisions-under-comprehensive-immigration-reform-bill-2013/

2. Analysis: http://watsonimmigration.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/invest-visa-startup-visa-provisions-here-comes-the-analysis/

This is a very exciting time in immigration law and for high-skilled immigrants.  Please come and participate in a discussion that could potentially shape these provisions! Your input is crucial!

Monday May 13, 2013. Networking starts at 5:30, workshop from 6:00 to 7:30 PST. 

You can join us on Google Hangout if you cannot join in person! 

Workshop fee is $10:00 for non-Eastside Incubator members.

Address:

Eastside Incubator
2711 152nd Ave NE – Building 6
Redmond, 98052

We will look forward to seeing you there.

REGISTER

Tahmina quoted in The Seattle Times & Society for Human Resource Management News

It was a busy day for being quoted in the news:

First:  The Seattle Times published an important story about the difficulties of not having work permission as an H-4 visa holder.  If you hold an H4 visa, or know anyone else on an H4 visa, this is the time to call your Senators. Comprehensive immigration reform bill will only allow work authorization to H4s in certain circumstances, majority of H4s will NOT get work permission. There is still time to change the bill, so call your Senators and get your voices heard! Here is a link to the story.  http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020930150_h4spousesxml.html

Second:  Tahmina was also quoted in the news section of The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) about the Invest Visa provisions.  Here is a link to the article:  http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/global/Articles/Pages/Senate-Bill-Employment-Green-Cards.aspx.  SHRM is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates.


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