The Start-Up America Program and National Interest Connection



People could take advantage of E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visa as a spin-off of the August 2011 press release of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Department announced initiatives that would promote start-up enterprises and create jobs in the United States through a program called “Start-Up America.”

“Start-Up America” also has several implications for people seeking lawful permanent residency, otherwise known as the “green card,” under the national interest waiver (NIW). Because the Start-up America program is geared at job creation and entrepreneurship, this provides potential immigrants with the chance to be creative and blend ideas and skills which would be in the national interest with that same idea’s potential for job creation and economic stimulus. The Start-up America and National Interest Waiver (National Interest Waiver) also serve to cast the net to provide opportunities for investment to citizens of countries that do not qualify for E-1 or E-2 visas due to the absence of a country trade agreement.

The concept of “national interest” has not been defined. This is a good thing because it means that there is no limit as to what may be considered to be in the national interest of the United States. Therefore, factors which are in the national interest can include innovations, businesses and other ideas that: Improve the economy; Improve the current state of unemployment which stood at 9.1% in August 2011; Improve the U.S. environment and promote a green economy; Improve healthcare; and Improve education.

Seekers of national interest waivers need to show that their work is important to the national interest of the United States. They also need to show that they have a degree of expertise in their field which is extraordinary or exceptional. This is usually seen from the visa seeker’s record of achievements. It is perhaps due to the seemingly daunting list of requirements that, typically, national interest waivers have been sought by professionals in fields such as science, journalism and other academia with a proven record of exceptional ability. But there are possibilities for entrepreneurs. INA ยง 203 (b)(2)(B) provides for NIW entrepreneurs. This provides people with street-smarts the same opportunities as people who are book-smart to qualify for NIW. The NIW entrepreneur must show that his or her work will be in an area of substantial interest and have a positive national interest.

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