In just over one year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) innovative Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) initiative has produced real benefits that will strengthen agency policies and practices relating to job-creating immigrant entrepreneurs who help advance American economic growth. USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas recently discussed the EIR team's accomplishments, including recent enhancements to Entrepreneur Pathways, USCIS's online resource center for entrepreneurs, at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He also announced plans to use the EIR model to bolster agency expertise in a broader range of industries.
"Our EIR initiative has had one overarching goal - to ensure that we capture the full potential of current immigration laws to attract and retain startup enterprises that promote innovation and create jobs in America," said Director Mayorkas. "In the 15 months since we started the initiative, we have seen positive results based on the combined talent of private sector experts and our own internal experts and we are eager to expand this concept to other industries we serve."
Launched at a February 2012 summit in Silicon Valley, the EIR initiative brought together startup experts and USCIS immigration experts to work collaboratively to streamline pathways fora range of existing visa categories often used by entrepreneurs. Three aims were key to the overall initiative: producing clear public materials to help entrepreneurs understand relevant visa categories; equipping USCIS staff with the right tools to adjudicate cases in today's complex business environment; and streamlining USCIS policies to better reflect the realities faced by foreign entrepreneurs and startup businesses.
USCIS also released a summary of the EIR team's work. Some of the highlights over the past year include:
• Nearly 30,000 visits to Entrepreneur Pathways, which provides entrepreneurs seeking to start a business in the United States an intuitive way to navigate the immigration process;
• Approximately 500 participants across the United States in USCIS's entrepreneur-focused engagements;
• More than 400 USCIS employment-based immigration officers trained on startup businesses and the environment for early-stage innovation; and
• More than 100 USCIS officers receiving additional specialized training to handle entrepreneur and startup cases.
USCIS is now seeking new private sector experts, using the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) Loaned Executive Program, in the areas of performing arts, health care and information technology. The introduction of expert views in these areas will help USCIS gain additional insights, and strengthen its policies and practices in areas critical to economic growth.