DECEMBER 2012
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Immigration

Immigrant Entrepreneurship Stalled for First Time in Decades

Dilip Patel

By DILIP PATEL

For almost two decades, immigrant-founded start-up companies — especially high-tech firms in Silicon Valley — have represented slightly more than a quarter of all such entrepreneurships in the United States and have been an important source of economic growth in our country. However, a new study from the Kauffman Foundation reports that immigrant-founded companies nationwide have slipped for the first time in decades, and its authors believe that the United States’ unwelcoming immigration system has created a “reverse brain drain.”

The report, The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent,” evaluated the rate of immigrant entrepreneurship from 2006 to 2012 and updated findings from the period between 1995 and 2005. Immigrant founders, who are most likely to start companies in the innovation/manufacturing-related services (45 percent) and software (22 percent) industries, employed about 560,000 workers and generated an estimated $63 billion in sales from 2006 to 2012, underscoring the continuing importance of high-skilled immigrants to U.S. The report provides detailed statistical data on immigrant start-ups by region, nationality, and sector.

While the downward trend is still slight nationwide, the report confirms that the U.S. must embrace immigrant entrepreneurs to maintain a dynamic economy:

“The U.S. risks losing a key growth engine just when the economy needs job creators more than ever.” Yet, “[t]he U.S. can reverse these trends with changes in policies and opportunities, if it acts swiftly. It is imperative that we create a startup visa for these entrepreneurs and expand the number of green cards for skilled foreigners to work in these startups. Many immigrants would gladly remain in the United States to start and grow companies that will lead to jobs.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Applicants Under Age 14 or Over Age 79 Do Not Need to Appear for Biometrics for Reentry Permit

When a lawful permanent resident plans to depart the U.S. temporarily and does not expect to return to the United States for a year, often he or she is advised to obtain (before departing the U.S.) a Reentry Permit. A Reentry Permit is a travel document that helps to protect an individual from inadvertently abandoning permanent resident status. To obtain the Reentry Permit travel document, the individual must apply while in the U.S. and obtain biometrics (fingerprints and a digital photograph) prior to departing the U.S. Once the biometrics have been taken, the individual can leave the U.S. and the travel document can be mailed to him or her abroad. The rules regarding fingerprints and photographs have been confusing for those under age 14 or over 79 because these individuals are not required to pay a biometrics fee or have their fingerprints taken. They are, however, being notified by USCIS that they are to appear at application support centers for biometrics. Just recently, however, USCIS has advised that such individuals are not required to attend a biometrics appointment. Instead, applicants under the age of 14 or over 79 can submit two passport-style photographs when applying for the Reentry Permit (in addition to all other required documentation), and USCIS will issue the travel document without requiring the applicant to attend an appointment.

Obtaining Expedited Advance Parole Documents

Adjustment of status and other applicants often require “advance parole” travel documents in order to depart the United States and re-enter without abandoning their underlying application. Travel documents are normally issued within 90 days of filing. When the foreign national has an emergency and cannot wait for issuance of the travel document, he or she can request an emergency expedite. While there are several ways to make such a request, USCIS clarifies that for emergency advance parole, the individual will need to visit a USCIS district or field office. While clients report that field offices often advise them that they cannot issue the requested travel document and refer the foreign national to the National Customer Service Center to make a service request, USCIS confirms, in fact, that all field offices are equipped to adjudicate and issue advance parole documents. If you encounter problems, please contact our office.

ICE Issues Guidelines on Applicability of Prosecutorial Discretion to Same-Sex Partners

In the summer of 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidelines on exercising prosecutorial discretion designed to focus its enforcement priorities on individuals who pose a threat to public safety, are recent border crossers, or repeatedly violate immigration laws. In a recent memo, ICE provides guidance to the field, clarifying how the existing guidelines relate to family relationships involving long-term, same-sex partners. Specifically, ICE has reminded its officers that one of the factors relevant to an assessment to decline to prosecute a case is the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships. And “family relationships,” it clarified, include two adults who are in a committed, long-term, same-sex relationship — specifically, it said, relationships in which the individuals:

While “family relationships” is only one of many factors that will be considered, this guidance is welcome news. Apparently, the guidance was prompted by a letter from 54 members of Congress requesting that DHS Secretary Napolitano issue written field guidance explicitly stating the policy that same-sex family ties are a positive factor to be considered for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

Dilip Patel of Shutts & Bowen LLP, a Florida Bar board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 227-8178 or e-mail dpatel@shutts.com

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