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Immigration Law

OcuSano Biotech Entrepreneur, Stanley Samuel, Ph.D., Faces Visa Roadblock

"Throwing yourself into a start-up business in the life sciences field would seem like a daunting enough task for most people: You’ve got product design challenges, corporate structure complexities and IP headaches to deal with, not to mention the tightrope-walk of securing funding for your venture.  But add in immigration and visa obstacles to that recipe and it seems like an explosive cocktail — almost too much uncertainty to bear.  You’d be forgiven if you thought about just throwing in the towel.  For Grand Rapids-based Dr. Stanley Samuel, immigration issues have been a part of his already-full workload since 2012, when he completed his Ph.D program and postdoctoral research in biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan.  Samuel says his decision to pursue a path of entrepreneurship with the startup company he created, OcuSano, Inc., rather than the traditional path of looking for employment and visa assistance from an existing company, has undeniably made life more complicated for him.  But he also says that he would repeat it all again the same way, if given the chance. ... Part of the problem, says Samuel, is that the immigration guidelines aren’t designed to evaluate entrepreneurs and their business prospects when gauging “extraordinary ability.”  The guidelines, he says, were established to look mostly at applicants who take the traditional routes of academia or employment at an established company. ... Samuel’s attorney, Elizabeth Quinn of Maggio & Kattar, PC, in Washington, D.C., says that Dr. Samuel’s case is an unusual one, if only for the reason that he’s decided to follow his entrepreneurial spirit at all costs.  Quinn, who specializes in immigration and nationality law, says that many non-citizens who aspire to become American entrepreneurs probably still take the more traditional path, putting in a few years of work with an established company to get an employer-sponsored visa before they strike out on their own.  However, Quinn says she also understands that sometimes an entrepreneur like Samuel simply has to move when the market is right and let the immigration process play out as it will.  If Samuel were not an entrepreneur, says Quinn, and were instead working for a university or a U.S. employer that can file on behalf of a foreign national, he would have likely met the visa criteria with ease." - RGM, May 22, 2014.