Last week, the USCIS released “Entrepreneur Pathways,” an online resource for immigrant entrepreneurs. The pathways can be accessed through USCIS.gov.
On October 11, 2011, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new initiative to harness industry expertise from the public and private sectors that will increase the job creation potential of employment-based and high-skilled visa categories. Called 'Entrepreneurs in Residence', the initiative builds upon a series of policy, operational, and outreach efforts within the framework of existing immigration laws. This program supports the White House and Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) efforts in growing the U.S. economy and creating American jobs. The USCIS EIR initiative consists of a tactical team comprised of outside experts working alongside USCIS staff.
Beginning in April 2012, the EIR team focused on assessing current policies, practices, and training across a range of existing nonimmigrant visa categories used by entrepreneurs to provide pathways that are clear, consistent and aligned with business realities.
As of November 2012, the EIR team has:
- Developed and launched the Entrepreneur Pathways web portal, which aims to close the information gap between USCIS and the entrepreneurial community;
- Developed and deployed a training workshop for USCIS employment-based immigration officers that focuses on entrepreneurs and the environment for startup companies and early-stage innovations;
- Trained a team of specialized immigration officers to handle entrepreneur and startup nonimmigrant visa cases;
- Modified Request for Evidence (RFE) templates for certain nonimmigrant visa categories to incorporate new sources of evidence related to entrepreneurs and startup companies into the adjudicative process; and;
- Developed a plan for quarterly engagements with the entrepreneurial community across the country.
The work of the EIR team has led to a greater understanding within USCIS of the characteristics and challenges of foreign entrepreneurs, informed USCIS’s thinking on policies and practices relevant to this community, and engaged agency talent in an unprecedented way.
What’s Next for EIR?
To sustain the momentum generated by the first phase of the EIR effort and build on the team’s accomplishments, USCIS extended the EIR initiative through April 2013. The USCIS EIR team will continue its work in the nonimmigrant arena and expand its focus to existing immigrant visa pathways that may enable foreign entrepreneurs to create a business and pursue a path to permanent residency in the United States.
USCIS is also embarking on a series of quarterly regional engagements with the entrepreneurial community in 2013. Visit the Outreach section of the Entrepreneur Pathways page to learn more about these engagements and see where we’re headed in the coming year!
The EIR model allows federal agencies to engage with outside experts who bring state-of-the art thinking in business processes, innovation and information technology. Using the DHS Loaned Executive Program to stand up EIR, USCIS sought external experts including entrepreneurs, business leaders, and academics to work in-house reviewing USCIS policies, practices and training. As one of the first federal agencies to embrace this tool for government innovation, USCIS has focused this inaugural initiative on foreign entrepreneurs and startup enterprises. Internal experts for the tactical team come from across the agency and include policy and legal experts as well as seasoned operations and fraud professionals.
The USCIS EIR initiative was launched with an Information Summit in Moffett Field, Calif. At the Summit, stakeholders provided strategic thinking on USCIS policies and practices related to foreign entrepreneurs, and shared their business expertise with the agency.