Practice Chair, Susan Cohen was quoted in the Law360 article, Rule for Foreign Startup Founders Seen as Helpful Stopgap in which she explains the nuances of the UCIS’s proposed entrepreneur rule, which will allow immigrant startup founders to temporarily stay in the U.S. Cohen notes that the rule doesn’t provide actual immigration status and clarifies the impact “parole status” will have on the overall visa process. The article provides an overview of the rule and the challenges non-U.S. entrepreneurs may face in meeting the rule’s requirements.

Susan Cohen was also quoted in the Bloomberg BNA article, Draft Immigration Rule Would Ease Foreign Entrepreneurs’ Entry in which she examines the investment threshold for the proposed entrepreneur rule. The article highlights key components of the rule, such as the two-fold parole period and its requirements, and offers expert insight from various attorneys on the rule’s implications.

On July 14, 2015, the House Judiciary Committee met to discuss oversight of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Immigration was a major topic alongside border security and global threats of terrorism, domestic terrorism and cyber-security.

What’s the temperature right now for immigration reform with the Committee?

Cold. Possibly even a deep freeze.

One congressman stated that we need to take “adult responsibility” to enforcement of immigration laws. That’s not a promising start. The concerns that surfaced involved more enforcement of the H-1B program to prevent abuse, DHS taking more steps to apprehend removable or deportable individuals in sanctuary cities, and more enforcement across the board.

For U.S. employers with very concrete concerns about retaining foreign talent, this perspective could not be more detached. The Committee is flying over this discussion at 35,000 feet, with no compass, no direction and no flight plan. From the notes, one would think that there is chaos, with criminals running the streets and DHS standing on the curb, refusing to engage in any enforcement-related activities. The Committee needs to get into the weeds to understand what needs to be fixed with our immigration system. Business goes on for U.S. employers, but failing to fix our immigration laws is costly. Here is what we lose:

  • Emerging companies and start-ups struggle with visa issues and as a result locate R&D facilities abroad
  • U.S. employers have insufficient H-1B visa numbers to employ the best and brightest
  • We have a green card investment program (EB-5) close to expiration in September 2015, which deters foreign investors from infusing capital into the United States
  • We have a clumsy technology platform for issuing visas that resulted, this summer again, in thousands of qualified visa applicants being stranded abroad.

If the notes to the Committee’s meeting are any indication of where we are headed, we should not expect Congress to pass any meaningful immigration-related legislation in the coming year. There is severe mechanical failure on the immigration law reform front.

Expect any congressional progress toward immigration reform to be canceled or at least delayed for some time. Don’t bank on any meaningful changes to the law in the coming year.

The following opinion piece by Susan Cohen appeared in the December 20, 2013 issue of VentureBeat and is reprinted here with permission.

The U.S. market is a magnet for foreign entrepreneurs. Yet the U.S. immigration system throws up roadblocks to entrepreneurs. There is no “startup” visa, and the visa options that exist are unwieldy and often impractical.

Contrast that with the Chilean government’s Start-up Chile program. Nicholas Shea, a Stanford MBA and a Chilean citizen, began this program in 2010, when he realized that there were no viable visa options for the Chilean friends he wanted to start a company with in Silicon Valley. Since 2010, the Start-up Chile program has awarded over 1,000 startup visas and millions of dollars of funding to those who win the country’s business plan competition. Continue Reading The Start-up Chile visa program: Chile’s gain is our loss

Nearly one year ago, President Obama signed legislation that would add Israel to the list of countries eligible for E-2 nonimmigrant investor visas to the United States. The legislation would grant E-2 investor visas to Israelis, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. to be closer to their investments. But the creation of a reciprocal visa for Americans investing in Israel is the hold-up, leaving Israeli companies wishing to secure E-2 visas in an administrative limbo. Both governments need to resolve this issue now. The delay has reached nearly one year.

The U.S. and Israeli governments should collaborate immediately to ensure that all conditions are met to facilitate the issuance of E-2 visas to Israelis. A one-year delay is simply unacceptable. Making E-2 visas available to Israelis will encourage cross-border transactions, grant Israeli companies more access to U.S. markets, and enhance scientific, technology and broader business ties between the two countries. On the U.S. side, an infusion of investments by Israeli companies into the U.S. economy will induce direct and indirect jobs. Israeli companies will benefit from being able to access markets in North and South America. For both countries, an investor visa is a win-win deal.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has had a static message about the delay on the post’s website since last summer: http://israel.usembassy.gov/consular/niv/nonimmigrant.html.

It’s time for an update to the public. The U.S. and Israeli governments should explain the reasons for what appears to be a one-year delay, and offer a timeline for implementing this favorable and beneficial program.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 cap on Monday, April 1, 2013. See a copy of the full press release at http://www.uscis.gov/h-1b_count, which is USCIS’s H-1B FY 2014 cap resources page. Continue Reading USCIS Expects the H-1B Cap to Be Reached in the First Few Days of April 2013

Actions speak louder than words. This is especially true these days when we see announcements about efforts to revamp our immigration system to encourage investment in the United States. Here is the latest example.

“Entrepreneur-in-Residence” initiative

On October 11, 2012, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced an “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” initiative to harness industry expertise for the public and private sectors in order to streamline the immigration process for foreign entrepreneurs. Then, on November 28, 2012, USCIS launched its “Entrepreneurs Pathways” web page with resources for entrepreneurs.

At first glance this seemed to signal that there is now a breakthrough, a real effort at USCIS to encourage entrepreneurship. The stated goal makes a great sound bite:  “As the world’s greatest economy and a global leader in innovation, the United States must continue to welcome and retain the next generation of foreign entrepreneurs who will start new businesses and create new jobs here in America.” Continue Reading USCIS Entrepreneur-in-Residence Initiative Not Substantive

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has not yet issued guidance to the public on the availability of E-2 visas for Israeli citizens. Continue Reading E-2 Visas for Israelis: Security Concerns and Upcoming Elections May Delay Implementation

On November 9, 2012, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released four documents regarding the agency’s internal fraud review process in connection with the adjudication of H-1B and L-1 petitions. These documents shed light on “fraud indicators” or variables that USCIS considers in adjudicating petitions; they also confirm that USCIS has systemically ramped up scrutiny of petitions filed by smaller companies. USCIS released these documents as a result of pending litigation brought by the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) and Steptoe and Johnson LLP on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Continue Reading USCIS Releases Fraud Analysis Framework for H-1 and L-1 Visas