The Trump administration took its first step Monday toward potentially unraveling a government program that would have paved the way for more foreign startup founders to come to the United States.
Its target is the International Entrepreneur Rule, an effort implemented by former President Barack Obama to allow foreigners who seek to build new companies — and already have capital and experience — to come to the United States on a 30-month trial without obtaining a visa.
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The rule, which had broad support in Silicon Valley, had been slated to go into effect on Friday — but in a notice to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would delay its implementation until March 14, 2018.
For its part, the Trump administration portrayed the decision as part of a broader, government-wide review of all existing federal immigration programs. "During the delay, DHS will be soliciting public comment on a proposal to withdraw to the rule, and individuals will not be able to apply for parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule," a spokesman said.
But the White House initially contemplated nixing the rule entirely as part of an executive order tightening border security that Trump signed in January. Ultimately, the president's directive did not scrap the program — but tech and investment leaders remain fearful the new delay announced Monday precedes its inevitable end.
The Mark Zuckerberg-backed immigration advocacy group, FWD.us, blasted the move as "unquestionably a setback for the United States in the global race for talent."