Is Trump Trying to Kill Jobs in Silicon Valley With Entrepreneur Visa Delay?

Donald Trump
Donald Trump's administration has delayed a rule allowing foreign investors and entrepreneurs to enter the country more easily. Thomas Lohnes/Getty

Donald Trump’s commitment to “make America great again” may not extend to attracting the kind of foreign talent who create American jobs, as his administration has delayed a rule allowing foreign investors and entrepreneurs to enter the country more easily.

The Department of Homeland Security said on Monday the International Entrepreneur Rule was being pushed back from July 17 this year to March 14, 2018, in a move that could be a big set back to jump-starting new companies and job creation in Silicon Valley.

Immigrants have played a big role in Silicon Valley. About a third of U.S. venture-backed companies that went public between 2006 to 2012 was created by one or more immigrant founder, according to a recent study by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Companies created by at least one immigrant founder include Facebook, LinkedIn, Zipcar and Tesla Motors.

Widely regarded as a "startup visa" in the U.S., the International Entrepreneur Rule was given the go-ahead by former president Barack Obama, and had been eagerly awaited by many businesses.

Indeed, in July a group of 80 entrepreneurs and investors wrote a letter to the White House pleading with the Trump administration to not delay the rule, The Hill reported, outlining concerns such a delay would hinder the growth of innovative companies in the country.

“The International Entrepreneur Rule is desperately needed at a time when U.S. entrepreneurial leadership is being challenged by other countries,” the letter stated. “In the last five years, at least half of the top ten largest venture investments in the world occurred outside the U.S.”

According to the Federal Register, the rule would create a glide path for new startup businesses entering the country. This parole status would be granted on a case-by-case basis for those who could demonstrate that they would create jobs and be able to rapidly grow their business.

“Such potential would be indicated by, among other things, the receipt of significant capital investment from U.S. investors with established records of successful investments, or obtaining significant awards or grants from certain Federal, State or local government entities,” the Federal Register stated.

The rule would have provided a 30-month period to create a new company, which can be extended by an additional 30 months. 

“Today’s announcement is extremely disappointing and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the critical role immigrant entrepreneurs play in growing the next generation of American companies,” said Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of the NVCA in a statement.

 “At a time when countries around the world are doing all they can to attract and retain talented individuals to come to their shores to build and grow innovative companies, the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite,” he added.