WASHINGTON, DC – The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) filed comments today to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) arguing against the department’s proposed rescission of the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), which would allow for talented immigrant entrepreneurs to remain in the United States to build and scale their startups. NVCA argues in its comments that rescinding the IER program would prevent the U.S. from realizing the substantial economic and security benefits that locating new startup companies in the U.S. would provide.
“NVCA is proud to once again lead the charge to support immigrant entrepreneurs,” said Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of NVCA. “Our comments in support of the International Entrepreneur Rule reflect the incredible contributions of foreign-born entrepreneurs and how they are working in partnership with venture capitalists to solve the world’s most challenging problems, whether in technology, healthcare, science, or many other areas. In addition, our comments demonstrate that the administration relies on unsupported assertions and arguments in justifying removal of the International Entrepreneur Rule.”
Some of the key highlights from NVCA’s comments to DHS on why it should keep the International Entrepreneur Rule include:
- “The U.S. economy has long thrived on the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs, who bring their talents, ideas, and initiative with them to the United States. The American economy thrives because talented people from around the globe want to bring their innovative ideas here and found new businesses to implement them.”
- “But foreign entrepreneurs who seek to build new businesses in the United States face significant barriers to obtaining permission to travel and work here. The International Entrepreneur Rule was promulgated…to alleviate these problems and facilitate entrepreneurship.”
- “IER is designed for companies that will grow quickly and employ many individuals. It is paramount to the U.S. national interest that this sort of entrepreneur…is located here. These startup companies are the key catalyst of job growth in America…”
- “Not only do these businesses benefit the economy, but they invent the new technologies and infrastructures that will power U.S. economic growth and competitiveness in the coming decades.”
- “Other nations are well aware of the benefits that leading entrepreneurial talent brings. Countries like Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom have put in place immigration programs designed to bring entrepreneurs to their shores. And the consequences of this international competition are apparent. Twenty years ago, more than 90 percent of global venture capital investment was made in U.S. companies. Last year, that dropped to 54 percent. The United States is losing ground in the race to attract the next leading companies.”
- “Despite the critical importance of attracting the world’s leading entrepreneurs, the Department now proposes to rescind the IER. This short-sighted decision, if finalized, will cost the United States hundreds of thousands of jobs. It will allow foreign nations to exercise leadership—at the expense of the United States—in critical fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, energy, and healthcare. And it will endanger U.S. national security by encouraging the next Google or SpaceX to be founded abroad. Rescinding the IER would thus substantially harm the U.S. economy and national interests.”
Background on the IER
Finalized by the Obama Administration, the rule allows foreign-born entrepreneurs to launch high-growth startups in the U.S. These immigrant entrepreneurs can remain in the U.S. for two and a half years, with the possible extension of another two and a half years. Less than a week before the IER was to go into effect on July 17, 2017, DHS announced that the rule would be delayed and that DHS intended to rescind the final rule. NVCA and the other plaintiffs argued that because DHS did not solicit advance comment from the public on the delay, it therefore violated clear requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. On December 1, 2017, United States District Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of NVCA and its co-plaintiffs. The ruling compelled DHS to dispense with its delay and to implement the program. Despite the court order, DHS has not moved forward with any applications under the International Entrepreneur Rule. As a result, on May 9, 2018, NVCA and its co-plaintiffs filed a motion for discovery in federal court to determine whether DHS is fully complying with the court order.
The delay and intention to rescind IER comes at a time of increased global competition for entrepreneurship. The U.S. share of global venture capital investment has dropped precipitously from 90% twenty years ago to 54% last year. Countries like Canada, France, Germany, and Singapore have put in place ‘startup visas’ to bring new companies to their shores. The world’s best immigrant entrepreneurs now have many choices on where to start a new enterprise, and the International Entrepreneur Rule would facilitate these job creators launching a startup in the United States, rather than overseas. Rescission of IER will only harm the U.S. economy by pushing new job creation and company formation overseas.