Today, December 12, 2012, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finally provided an update to the much talked about Entrepreneur in Residence program. Like many others, I too have been waiting anxiously.
Firstly, it must be noted that the efforts that USCIS is making to accommodate entrepreneurs is incredible. As I have stated many times, the USCIS can only work within the laws that exist and it is commendable that it is taking the initiative to evaluate existing laws to ensure they are addressing needs of immigrant entrepreneurs.
At the public engagement today, much information was discussed. Director Mayorkas stated that this is the beginning of an effort and that “the goal is take this innovation and to make it a permanent capacity of the agency.” He stated that “while we are at an accomplished stage, we are still at inception”. This sentiment was echoed throughout the conference- that while all efforts are being made, this is the beginning of a larger goal. In other matters that were discussed, here is a summary:
* The EIR team has traveled to many places in the US to learn about start-up businesses. There will be quarterly engagements in 2013.
* Employment-based adjudicators have been trained both at the Vermont Service Center and California Service Center. A smaller group of adjudicators have been trained further on entrepreneurial issues. Adjudicators have been taken to incubators for example to learn about modern business practices.
* It was stated that while non-immigrant visas have been the focus of EIR, it is hoped that these findings could be utilized for immigrant visas as well, such as EB1 cases and National Interest Waivers.
* Attention was drawn by attendees to the increased RFEs and fraud indicating issues that affect petitions from entrepreneurs. The EIR team reassured that they are aware of the issues and are actively addressing the problems.
* Many distinguished immigration attorneys attended the meeting and made valuable comments and suggestions that the EIR team will take into consideration.
* Some guidance was provided regarding filing these petitions including stating that USCIS adjudicators do heavily rely on the VIBE database.
The meeting was indeed much needed and was useful. I know it will help many of my clients. I want take this opportunity to thank Director Mayorkas and his team for all the efforts they are making in this regards. While I am a big advocate for a new start-up visa, I realize our hands our tied (as does the USCIS) and it is praisable that the current system is being assessed to accommodate immigrant entrepreneurs. Though results are likely to be slow to see, I believe this has much potential and can benefit the country as a whole for much needed job creation.