President Donald Trump was elected on an anti-immigration platform that included building a wall between the southern border of the United States and Mexico. His polarizing stance on immigration has been met with particularly vehement resistance from the entrepreneurship sector.
That's because many top founders hail from abroad. Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk is from South Africa, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin is from Russia, for example. And in 2016, 44 of the 87 start-ups in the United States valued at $1 billion or more were created by immigrants, according to a National Foundation for American Policy study.
On Tuesday, the National Venture Capital Association, along with a collection of entrepreneurs and start-ups, intensified that resistance by filing a lawsuit in federal court in Washington. The suit is an effort to defend foreign-born entrepreneurs' ability to live and work in the United States via former President Barack Obama's International Entrepreneur Rule.
"Immigrant entrepreneurs play a vital role in strengthening the U.S. economy, creating new jobs for Americans and pushing the boundaries of innovation. Rather than throw up roadblocks that prevent them from bringing their talent and ingenuity to our shores, we should welcome them with open arms," says Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of NVCA, in a statement.
At the end of his administration, Obama signed into law the International Entrepreneur Rule, allowing foreign-born entrepreneurs to be considered for two-and-a-half-year visas, with the potential for a second two-and-a-half-year extension.
Applicants for the visa would have to show that granting them legal status in the United States would "provide a significant public benefit" because "he or she is the entrepreneur of a new start-up entity in the United States that has significant potential for rapid growth and job creation," according to the congressional public record, the Federal Register. The rule would also require applicants to show investments of at least $250,000 from established U.S. investors. The rule was set to go into effect on July 17, 2017.
At the time, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that 2,940 entrepreneurs would be able to get legal status under the rule each year.