Why the International Entrepreneur Rule Matters — A Commentary from LabCentral Founder Johannes Fruehauf

May 25, 2018 — The Department of Homeland Security announces on its Website: “DHS Proposes to Remove the International Entrepreneur Rule | USCIS”

May 30, 2018 — @JFruehauf (that’s me) tweets: Ugh. This is just plain stupid. We all know how important immigration is for job creation. Please talk to your politicians about the question of #immigration & #entrepreneurship.

This one is really a head-shaker. I could have also tweeted SAD!

Last year we wrote in a STAT News First Opinion Piece, BioMedical innovation depends on immigrants’ contributions, I am an immigrant here and, like many of my immigrant colleagues, I am proud to be contributing to my new country by working hard and creating new jobs for others. Yet our stories — indeed our very existence — make some people in government uncomfortable. How else could one explain the reasons for eliminating the IER? There is simply no other rational, (fact-based) explanation that holds up to the minimum level of scrutiny if one is considering this country’s economy and jobs.

You could call this a depressing outlook; however, I am an optimist. I still believe that this kind of backwards-looking narrow-mindedness is a minority view and that people can be spurred to action with objective, truthful insights from real data (aka facts). So here are just a few:

According to the New American Economy, in 2014, the 65,373 immigrant-owned firms in Massachusetts employed nearly 135,000 people and generated $1.7 billion in business income. These are conservative estimates because they exclude large, publicly traded companies. In the same year, immigrant-led households in the commonwealth earned $36.8 billion, contributing one in seven dollars paid in local and state tax revenues. What to these revenues fund? The firefighter, the teacher, the health officer, the public park — we count on them being there when we need them, and immigrants’ hard-earned dollars help make them possible.

The economic contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs extend across the nation and the world. The “New American” Fortune 500 reported in 2011 that, at $4.2 trillion, the revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants was greater than the combined gross domestic products of every country in the world outside the US, excluding China and Japan. Fortune 500 companies founded by first-generation immigrants alone generated $1.7 trillion of that amount.

When we surveyed our LabCentral high-potential life science startups for our 2016 Impact Report, we learned that 73 percent were founded or co-founded by immigrants. Between 2014 and 2017, our resident companies raised more than $2 billion in VC and other funding, have filed 392 patents, and have added nearly 1,200 direct jobs to the U.S. economy — each of which typically leads to a gain of four five indirect jobs as well.

It’s NOT TOO LATE. International Entrepreneur Rule has NOT been eliminated YET … But we all need to take action. DHS is accepting feedback until June 28th. I already submitted my public comments. Please take a moment to submit yours here (it’s easy to do!).

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New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) members support entrepreneurs winning. Great VCs depend on great entrepreneurs.

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