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US Expected to Scrap Visa Program for Entrepreneurs

FILE - Passengers arriving from abroad at Los Angeles International Airport use new automated passport kiosks.
FILE - Passengers arriving from abroad at Los Angeles International Airport use new automated passport kiosks.

President Donald Trump's administration is postponing and plans to drop a program to provide visas for foreign entrepreneurs who launch companies in the United States.

The visa program, proposed last year by former President Barack Obama, was intended to give entrepreneurs who are not eligible for other types of visas permission to live in the U.S. for 30 months to get their enterprises up and running.

Leading figures in the technology industry had lobbied strongly for the visa program as a way for immigrants to come to the U.S. to start companies, contribute to the economy and create more jobs. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has estimated that nearly 3,000 entrepreneurs would be eligible for such visas each year.

The so-called startup visa program was to have taken effect next week, but DHS will issue a notice Tuesday postponing implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule until March 14, 2018.

The notice posted online by the Federal Register said DHS plans to rescind the rule, but is requesting public comments before issuing a final decision.

The program would permit non-U.S. citizens to stay in the country for renewable 30-month terms if they have $250,000 in capital investments or win $100,000 in government grants to support their proposals.

The president of the National Venture Capital Association, Bobby Franklin, said Monday the administration's decision was "extremely disappointing."

“At a time when countries around the world are doing all they can to attract and retain talented individuals to come to their shores to build and grow innovative companies," Franklin said, "the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the DHS, has said it decided to delay the rule to ensure it is consistent with an executive order Trump issued during his first days in office, limiting federal officials' authority to grant permission for foreign nationals to remain in the U.S., except on a case-by-case basis.