Proposed bill to change E-2 visa could help Dutch dairy farmer
BELLINGHAM, Minn. — The fate of a Dutchman who's owned and operated a dairy farm in western Minnesota since 2001 may be in the hands of Congress.
A bill has been introduced that could help Kor Mulder and his sons become permanent U.S. residents so they can continue farming in Minnesota.
On Wednesday Mulder met with staff from the offices of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Collin Peterson.
On Monday he's scheduled to drive to St. Paul to meet with a representative from Sen. Tina Smith's office.
"It's all positive. We're all headed the right direction"," said Mulder in a telephone interview.
Whether the proposed legislation (H.R. 2124) can move through the slow wheels of Congress in time to help him, however, remains to be seen.
Mulder is a legal immigrant who came to Minnesota 18 years ago on an E-22 investor visa with his then-wife and two small sons.
But under the current rules of that type of visa, it's nearly impossible for Mulder to become a permanent resident or get a green card and his sons are forced to return to the Netherlands when they turn 21.
His oldest son, Garion, went back last year and his other son, Kelsey, turns 21 in July and is looking to return to live in a country he left when he was 2 ½ years old.
Since Mulder's current visa expires in June — and because he can't do all the work by himself — he'd been preparing to give up the ship, sell his cows and also move back home, despite wanting to stay here and farm.
In an earlier interview, Mulder said he's spent thousands of dollars on immigration attorneys over the years and has had numerous conversations with lawmakers in failed attempts to find a solution that would allow him to stay.
The recent news of his pending move back to the Netherlands has received widespread news media attention and has now caught the attention of Washington, D.C., region. Mulder said he is far more optimistic and he's considering waiting it out to see what happens in Congress.
Peterson has signed onto the bill as a co-sponsor, but Mulder said people need to encourage more Congress members to support the bill so it can move quickly through the system.
If Mulder sees a glimmer of hope that the bill can be approved in the near future, he may start the expensive process to renew his E-2 visa and keep farming while the process continues to work.
He said given the financial investment he has made in Minnesota and the economic benefit his farm brings the state, Mulder said it shouldn't be as hard as it is to allow someone here legally on an E-2 visa to get a green card or become a permanent resident.
"We don't steal jobs, we create jobs," he said.
Mulder said he's "pretty sure" something will happen with the proposed legislation but "the question is when is something going to happen."
He said he needs to weigh the financial risk of staying with the unknown outcome of Congress.