• USCIS Launches Entrepreneurs in Residence Program at Silicon Valley Summit
  • February 28, 2012
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas and other senior agency officials met on Wednesday with Silicon Valley leaders and members of the business immigration community - including attorneys from Fragomen - to discuss how the agency can become more responsive to the needs of start-up companies and entrepreneurs.

    The meeting marked the official kick-off of USCIS’s Entrepreneurs in Residence program, a new initiative that will engage private-sector experts to advise and educate the agency on immigrant entrepreneurship and related business issues. The program is part of the Obama Administration's broader plan to spur job creation and economic growth by encouraging foreign investors and entrepreneurs in the United States.

    At the day-long summit, USCIS and technology leaders spoke frankly about the challenges start-up companies face when petitioning to employ highly skilled foreign workers. Investors and entrepreneurs commented that agency officials are often unfamiliar with the innovative business and financing models that are characteristic of fast-moving start-up ventures. The result is burdensome requests for evidence or even petition denials, and the loss of entrepreneur and technical talent that would otherwise be creating companies and jobs in the United States. USCIS officials appeared committed to taking into consideration the fact that small technology companies are legitimate and important employers, despite their less formal legal and financial structure.

    What the Entrepreneurs in Residence Program Means for Employers

    The Entrepreneurs in Residence is a promising platform for dialogue with USCIS about the business realities faced by start-up companies and innovators. But the practical impact of the program on USCIS policies and adjudications will not be known for some time.