Entrepreneurs Not Well Understood at USCIS

What USCIS needs to learn about entrepreneurs to do a better job

On February 22, 2012, USCIS Director Mayorkas hosted an Information Summit at the NASA Research Park in Moffett Field, California to launch the USCIS Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative. The goal of the Entrepreneurs in Residence program is to create a Tactical Team comprised of USCIS employees and external business experts to collaborate in “ensuring that immigration pathways for foreign entrepreneurs are clear and consistent, and better reflect today’s business realities.”

The goal is worthy, timely and vital if foreign born entrepreneurs are going to be able to smoothly navigate the labyrinth of U.S. immigration laws to set up their successful businesses on our shores instead of overseas.

Key Themes Emerging from the Information Summit:

  • How to demonstrate the legitimacy of startups through investments when many of the unique characteristics of startups are also traditional indicators of fraud or ineligibility to USCIS;
  • How to demonstrate the organization structure of a startup where often there is no fixed office, no fixed hierarchy of employees as in traditional businesses, and often no fixed roles or titles.
  • How to define “specialty occupations” in the H-1B category where USCIS is accused of overreliance on the Occupational Outlook Handbook which is considered to be out of touch with the modern reality of professional jobs.
  • How to close the knowledge gap between USCIS and immigrant entrepreneurs where many business participants felt that USCIS “needs a cultural change.”
  •  How to eliminate the burdensome RFEs where the business participants felt that going back to a system where the petitioner could just pick up the phone to clarify one or two missing items would be much better than responding to a long RFE which goes on a fishing expedition.

The public is invited to share additional feedback and concrete suggestions with the Tactical Team at public.engagement@dhs.gov with the subject line “Entrepreneurs in Residence.” If you have anything to add this would be the perfect opportunity to get your voice out there to affect policy in the making!

Article categories: Entrepreneurs and Business Start-ups

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