Is Rescinding the Entrepreneur Visa Good for Business?

An employee signs a written form.

On Jan. 17, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security issued its entrepreneur visa rules to attract tech startups to the United States.

No nationality has a monopoly on great ideas, but the U.S. has a near-monopoly on venture capital. That is the idea behind the so-called entrepreneur visa. On Jan. 17, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security issued its International Entrepreneur Rule, which allowed an exemption to standard visa procedures for immigrants who would be starting businesses in the United States. Applicants would be evaluated individually, looking at their records and the amount of funding already obtained. Those who were approved would be permitted a temporary initial stay in the United States of up to 30 months.

Benefits of the International Entrepreneur Rule

The money and the ideas would create jobs and tax revenue for Americans. Given the track record of immigrant entrepreneurs in the U.S. (look no further than Google), this would allow people who developed technology while here on a student visa to continue to work in the U.S. It would reduce the immigration compliance costs, too.

The rule was set to take effect on July 17, 2017. On July 11, however, it was officially rescinded. As The New York Times reports, it was part of President Trump's general roll-back of immigration privileges.

Organizations Affected

As the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule had a narrow focus, the organizations that are most affected would be different venture capital firms and related businesses that serve entrepreneurs. Some of these already had relationships in place such that the Department of Homeland Security had already received applications for admission to the U.S. under the program.

On the other hand, this means that many of those investors will be more willing to seek out entrepreneurs based in the United States, and American employers — especially in high technology fields — may face less competition for workers. In the long run, this could represent opportunity cost more than anything. We don't know what those on an entrepreneur visa would or would not have created.