Startup companies are engines of job creation, fueled in no small measure by immigrant entrepreneurs starting new companies across the country. President Obama supports legislation to create a visa designed specifically for immigrant entrepreneurs, as part of his vision for a 21st-century immigration system. But instead of just waiting for Congress to act, there’s a great deal the Federal government can do on its own to streamline immigration pathways for startup founders.
One approach is the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) initiative, launched by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at a stakeholder summit in Silicon Valley earlier this year. USCIS, the Federal agency responsible for administering visa programs, announced last week that its new EIR “Tactical Team” has hit the ground running. Its 90-day mission: to streamline existing visa pathways for immigrant entrepreneurs interested in coming to the United States to create jobs.
Who are these Entrepreneurs in Residence? The 15-member team includes startup experts from the private sector and immigration experts from USCIS. Check out the team member bios and you’ll appreciate the diversity of experience they bring to bear. The private sector participants include
- Luis Arbulu, an immigrant from Peru who served as a Google executive before founding the startup incubator Hattery Labs;
- Paul Ford, a serial entrepreneur currently serving as a top executive at SoftLayer Technologies;
- Ted Gonder, who started the entrepreneurship education organization Moneythink while still in college;
- Blake Patton, a serial entrepreneur currently serving as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center; and
- Paul Singh, a partner at 500 Startups, one of the world’s most prolific early-stage investment funds.
These startup veterans are working side by side with ten professionals from within USCIS, including experts in immigration law, policy, operations, and fraud detection: Sunny Choi, Robert Cox, Liz Elkiss, Mark Harvey, Efren Hernandez, Tanya Howrigan, Julia Kennedy, Emery Moore, Catherina Sun, and Natalie Tynan.
Over the next 90 days, the USCIS Tactical Team will work to optimize the many existing visa categories used by entrepreneurs to provide pathways that are clear, consistent, and aligned with business realities. See full details here, and let the team members know how you think they can best achieve this mission. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Entrepreneurs in Residence.”
Doug Rand is a Senior Policy Advisor at OSTP
Felicia Escobar is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Domestic Policy Council