USCIS Reverses Decision, Grants Work Visa to Entrepreneur Immigrant

One day after ABC World News aired a story about Amit Aharoni, an Israeli immigrant who founded a successful company in California but was denied a work visa, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency reversed its ruling.

On November 1, ABC aired and published a report on Aharoni’s situation, describing how the Stanford Business School graduate raised $1.65 million to start a website called CruiseWise.com, designed to facilitate online cruise ship vacation bookings. The company has already hired nine employees and is set to launch within weeks, but encountered a stumbling block on October 4, when Aharoni received a letter from USCIS informing him that his U.S. visa application had been rejected and he needed to immediately leave the country.

Aharoni left San Francisco upon getting this news and proceeded to work remotely from Vancouver.

“I fear that I will be forced to move the center of gravity of CruiseWise to a different place where I can rely on sensible immigration policy,” Aharoni told ABC.

On November 2, Aharoni received an email from USCIS telling him that his visa application had been reconsidered and accepted. He told ABC he plans to return to the United States as soon as possible.

Aharoni’s story amplifies the message increasingly being voiced by business leaders and academics, that the United States needs to reform its process for granting business visas and green cards to encourage entrepreneurs to start enterprises in the country.

In a recent speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a Wall Street Journal op-ed, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out that the government issues more family reunification green cards each year than business green cards, and he called for this imbalance to be redressed. His points were echoed by a panel of mayors, CEOs and academics convened in El Paso, Texas, in October.