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As Trump kills the 'startup visa,' will Seattle's tech industry suffer?

caption: South Lake Union neighborhood, home to many Seattle tech companies
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South Lake Union neighborhood, home to many Seattle tech companies
Flickr Photo/Tim Eytan (CC-BY-SA-2.0)/

Emily Fox talks with immigration attorney Tahmina Watson about President Trump's decision to put an end to the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would have allowed some foreign business owners to build their companies in the U.S.

On the economic impact to the Puget Sound region:

I think this will really harm the region. We already are in a situation where immigrants cannot stay in the U.S. when they want to start a company. This new rule was going to fill a void for that particular problem.

Seattle is a booming region of growth and innovation. And we're going to face a situation where foreign entrepreneurs who are coming here will not be able to stay in the U.S. And they won't be able to come in the first place and start their companies.

On the fate of entrepreneurs who were hoping to come to Seattle:

They will have no choice but to leave the U.S. or even start out in a different country. Canada has a start-up visa program. France started a tech visa and they're calling entrepreneurs to go to their country.

Countries around the world are looking at entrepreneurs as an economic strategy. America is the only country that is regressing on that issue.

On whether a "startup visa" in the U.S. is possible in the future:

This action kills hope for any such thing in a near future. For about a decade now, startup visas have been coming and going in Congress. Nothing has actually passed. This rule is the closest that we have ever had to a startup visa. It was going to help innovation in this country.

On her response to those who support President Trump on this issue:

This would have helped American entrepreneurs. Often you will find that a startup has multiple co-founders and often those co-founders are foreign entrepreneurs.

The issue is American jobs. In Washington state alone, immigrant-owned businesses generated $1.2 billion in income in 2014.

So it's not about American entrepreneurs. This is about the economy and American jobs.

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