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New opportunity opens up for immigrants

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Maryland and other states may be able to benefit through a proposed immigration program. It is intended to help foreign entrepreneurs who are establishing a business stateside.

The initiative through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would apply to individuals in countries such as India that do not have an investment treaty with the United States and are thus not eligible for a E-2 visa. The initiative is available for individuals who are starting or scaling up businesses in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security already has discretionary authority regarding immigration, and this initiative would simply expand this authority to help budding entrepreneurs.

If finalized into law, the initiative would provide individuals with permission to stay in the country for two years if they meet certain criteria. This criteria includes starting up a business in the United States within the past three years, having an ownership interests of at least 15 percent, having an active and central role in business operations and providing compelling evidence of the potential for rapid growth and the ability to create jobs. During their stay, entrepreneurs would be permitted to oversee their business. After the initial two-year stay, they would be able to apply to stay for a remaining three years if necessary. However, for this longer time table, the immigrant would have to provide evidence that he or she would provide a significant public benefit, such as an increase in revenue, job creation or capital investment.

Immigrants who are interested in possibly taking advantage of this new initiative or other programs that are currently accessible may choose to talk to an immigration attorney. Legal counsel may be able to assess a person's case and determine which immigration options may be available.

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