USCIS Announces 'Entrepreneurs in Residence' Initiative, Discusses EB-5 Enhancements
As part of the Obama administration's "Startup America" efforts to encourage high-skilled immigration into the U.S. under existing laws, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas recently announced the "Entrepreneurs in Residence" initiative to use "industry expertise to strengthen USCIS policies and practices surrounding immigrant investors, entrepreneurs and workers with specialized skills, knowledge, or abilities." Director Mayorkas announced the initiative at the High Growth Entrepreneurship Listening and Action Session at AlphaLab in Pittsburgh, before the quarterly meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness with President Obama.
Director Mayorkas said the introduction of expert views from the private and public sectors "will help us to ensure that our policies and processes fully realize the immigration law's potential to create and protect American jobs."
USCIS will launch the "Entrepreneurs in Residence" initiative with a series of informational summits with industry leaders to gather strategic input. Informed by the summits, the agency will create a tactical team including entrepreneurs and experts, working with USCIS personnel, "to design and implement effective solutions." Director Mayorkas said the initiative "will strengthen USCIS's collaboration with industries at the policy, training, and officer level[s], while complying with all current Federal statutes and regulations."
The initiative builds upon USCIS's recent efforts to promote startup enterprises and spur job creation, including enhancements to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. USCIS said that since August, it has been conducting a review of the EB-5 process, working with business analysts to enhance related adjudications, implementing direct access to adjudicators for EB-5 regional center applicants, and launching new specialized training modules for USCIS officers on the EB-2 visa classification and L-1B nonimmigrant intracompany transferees.
At a related press conference, Director Mayorkas explained that "[w]e as an agency have been focused in the absence of legislative action to create newer broader pathways for the best and brightest from around the world to come to the United States and really take advantage of the opportunities here to enable our economy to grow and to create jobs for American workers." He said that the administration is "reviewing our policies and our processes to ensure that we are capturing the existing laws and the legislative intent behind those laws."
Director Mayorkas said that "Entrepreneurs in Residence" and what it represents "cuts across all visa lines and is not limited to the EB-5 program by any measure." He said that DHS will be looking at the initiative's applicability in the arts and entertainment arenas, the O and P visa lines, and the H-1 categories.
He also noted that DHS does not plan to bring in a large cadre of experts, but rather "to start tactically and surgically" with a small group of people, some working on strategy and some on tactics. He said that DHS is still working out the details and will release more information on next steps later.
USCIS's statement on "Entrepreneurs in Residence" is available here. A transcript of a related press conference held in October 2011 is available here.
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