The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new initiatives on August 2, 2011 that would allow entrepreneurs to pursue a green card under the employment based second preference category (EB2). The new policy also clarified that entrepreneurs may qualify for National Interest Waiver (NIW) and H-1B, including an example showing when a sole owner of a petitioner (company) may be able to demonstrate an employee-employer relationship for H-1B purposes.
The initiatives are brought up with very good intentions – there is no doubt about that. In fact, it is a key part of the Obama administration’s Startup America campaign, aimed to attract the world’s best and brightest to become America’s job-creating entrepreneurs.
However, the new policy immediately raised concerns among current EB-2 applicants – many of them have been waiting in queue for several years. The visa bulletin for August 2011 set the cutoff date for China and India EB2 categories to April 15, 2007, which means that you may be able to get a green card only if you started your immigration process nearly five years ago. EB3 preferences face even a longer wait, ranging from 6 to 10 years.
Given the current situation, increasing demand without increasing the supply of visa numbers doesn’t seem like a good way to reduce existing backlogs. So the initiative to allow new entrepreneurs to share the same pool of EB2 visa numbers could potentially worsen the retrogression. On the other hand, however, more jobs created by more startup companies are good for the economy, which in turn improves the political atmosphere necessary for a true immigration reform. What do you think? We posted a survey shortly after the USCIS announcement and here is the breakdown of 120 responses (a small sample size, but from people who truly care about immigration):