Exclusive: Legal business owners blocked from becoming citizens

NAPLES, Fla.-  All eyes are on President Obama’s plan to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, but only WINK News uncovers an untold story. Thousands who are in the country legally, and investing in the U.S. economy, can never call themselves American citizens.

In 2008, Colin Glass and his wife June moved to Naples from Scotland for something different. The couple has gained acclaim in Collier County through their home dog training service.

Glass says there’s a whole other side to the controversial debate over immigration reform.

“This is not on the average American’s radar. If they think of immigration, they immediately conjure up an image of people sneaking over a border at night,” said Glass.

Glass says the move to America wasn’t easy. To even be considered for what’s called an E-2 visa, Glass had to invest in his business, not knowing if the government would approve him to move to the U.S. He admits it was a gamble, since he couldn’t get his money back should he be denied.

It’s now a hurdle Glass and his wife face every five years when they have to fly back to Scotland hoping to have their visas renewed.

Not to mention the costs.  Glass says his attorneys fees and travel costs added up to $10,000 or $2,000/year.

“I don’t mind that, but the problem is that this leads to no ultimate pathway to citizenship.”

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-FL plans to introduce a bill that would restructure the work visa program to allow people who have successfully run a business for ten years to become permanent residents.

“They’re here legally for ten years, no criminal record, no infractions, they’ve contributed.  We should be incentivizing and encouraging those families,” said Jolly.

The bill would also ensure families who start a business are able to stay together.  Children of E-2 visa holders could stay on their parent’s visa until they turn 26.  Currently, they can only stay until they turn 21.

Congressman Jolly says children of visa holders aren’t protected by the president’s executive action.

“The President’s executive order actually protects those who overstay their visa or who break the law,” said Jolly.

Jolly says his bill was inspired by business owners in his district who are impacted.  Under E-2 visas, business owners have to return to their home countries when they retire.

For Glass, who would like to retire in Naples, a possible change can’t come soon enough.

“This country’s a great country and we want to stay here.”

Rep. Jolly plans to file the bill at the beginning of March.

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