On August 2nd, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delineated a number of initiative ideas to increase investment and bolster the nation’s economy.  These initiatives aim to streamline visa adjudications for certain categories of immigrant entrepreneurs and to  draw immigrants from around the world to invest their energy, ideas, and talents to work and grow American employment, as well as stimulate entrepreneurship.   

It has been about six months since the inception of Startup America, an initiative executed by the White House to accelerate growth for America’s entrepreneurs.  Startup America serves as one key focus of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which seeks to establish the United States as the primary innovator, competitor, and contributor to the world’s economy.  T USCIS has now contributed the following proposals to the Startup America initiative. Many are in the proposal stage and will be made official USCIS policy sometime in the future. We will keep you updated as the various programs come on line. 

EB-2 National Interest Waivers: First, the national interest waiver for the EB-2 visa (which covers aliens of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business) is accessible now to immigrant entrepreneurs who can show  that their business efforts will be in the United States’ national interest. We will have an upcoming blog post on the details of this change, as it may be very beneficial for many immigrants stuck in EB-3 who would like to start their own businesses. 

H-1Bs for Business Owners: Second, H-1B visas are now being made available to entrepreneurs with an ownership stake in their own companies, if an alien in question can show that his company has an independent right to control its employment.  USCIS has provided updated guidance to all of its Service Centers for adjudication of these types of petitions. We will be keeping you updated as the developments and adjudication trends unfold in the coming months.  

More Access for EB-5 Applicants: Third, USCIS  will be streamlining the EB-5 immigrant investor process by extending the availability of premium processing for EB-5 applications, establishing direct lines of communication between the applicants and USCIS, and providing applicants with an opportunity to speak before a panel of USCIS experts to resolve any issues regarding a given application. There is no time line in place for these improvements. We would not advise any investor to hold their breath, as it could be a while to put these proposals into place.

Premium Processing for Intra-Company Transferee I-140s: Fourth,  USCIS is looking to expand its premium processing service to I-140 petitions for multinational executives and managers.  Premium Processing allows employers to expedite the processing of their petitions as long as there exists no fraud, evidentiary deficiencies, or concerns regarding national security.  Unfortunately, there is no date set yet for the implementation of this service.

Finally, the Office of Public Management plans to hold a series of meetings to field issues of importance for foreign entrepreneurs and start-up companies.  Such meetings will give USCIS information regarding how such groups may be eligible for certain employment-based visa categories.  The first of these meetings was held last week on August 11th.  In a similar vein, USCIS is hosting Conversations with the Director, which involves a series of small group meetings with Director Mayorkas to discuss important immigration issues pertinent to communities across the United States.  The first of these meetings occurred earlier this week on August 15th, and addressed economic development and the EB-5 investor program.