Silicon Valley Execs Press White House Officials On Foreign Entrepreneur Rule

By Trisha Thadani
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Silicon Valley executives met with administration officials this week to discuss ways in which foreign entrepreneurs can live and create companies in the U.S.

San Francisco Chronicle

In a White House meeting Thursday, tech executives and investors, many from the Bay Area, signaled the importance of keeping a rule that would encourage foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. and build their companies, according to attendees.

The meeting was held as part of a weeklong series of events at the White House focusing on the tech industry. It came a day after The Chronicle revealed the administration’s plans to scrap the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would give qualified foreign entrepreneurs a chance to stay in the U.S. to foster their startups.

There was “unanimous agreement from the tech and venture capital community in the room (for the administration) to be more permissive on immigrants,” said Aman Verjee, chief operating officer of Mountain View tech incubator 500 Startups, who was in the meeting.

National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn, who led one of the meetings, said the White House understands the value of of immigrants to the economy and blamed Congress for the roadblock, Verjee said. The White House declined to comment.

The International Entrepreneur Rule was supposed to go into effect July 17. But the administration plans to push back the rule’s effective date to March and pursue steps to rescind the rule altogether, according to an unpublished final draft of a Federal Register notice read to The Chronicle by an administration official.

This news frustrated many in Silicon Valley, as there is no direct route for an entrepreneur to live and create a company in the U.S. Other countries have visas that foster the development of new ventures.
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At a second meeting with the president, a list of recommendations read to the administration included keeping the rule. Trump apparently nodded along to the recommendations that were read by an attendee, people at the meeting said. After the meeting, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior White House adviser, tweeted, “Fostering American innovation is a key priority for the Administration.”

While Verjee and other attendees said the government officials seemed supportive of encouraging foreign entrepreneurship, they offered no specifics on how they plan to do so.

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