A federal judge has ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to begin accepting applications for foreign entrepreneurs to enter the U.S. under the International Entrepreneur Rule, blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to delay implementation of the Obama-era policy.
Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sided with the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) in a lawsuit the organization filed in September. The policy in question is often calle a “startup visa” though it is not technically visa category. It lets foreign entrepreneurs spend several years in the U.S. building their startups.
The rule dates back to Barack Obama’s administration, when the former president instructed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a way for entrepreneurs whose startups met certain benchmarks of success to legally build those companies in the U.S. The rule was supposed to take effect in July but DHS delayed its start date to March 14, 2018, at Trump’s behest. The administration delayed implementation of the policy with the intention of rescinding it.
The Obama administration proposed the rule as a workaround for foreign entrepreneurs because there isn’t currently a good avenue for startup founders from other countries to build their companies in the U.S. Work visas, like the H-1B, only apply to skilled employees, not founders.
In the lawsuit, the NVCA claimed that DHS violated administrative procedures by delaying implementation of the rule without soliciting public comment. The judge agreed with the NVCA, ordering DHS to implement the rule.
“Today marks a significant victory for talented foreign entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the U.S. economy,” said NVCA President Bobby Franklin in a statement. “The facts speak for themselves — the U.S. economy has long thrived on the contributions and innovations of immigrant entrepreneurs and we are a better country as a result. Implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule is a commonsense approach to attracting the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs.”
Read Judge Boasberg’s opinion below.