As we mentioned in a post in October, USCIS has created the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) initiative to partner with leading American business experts to improve approaches to employment-based and high-skilled visa categories used by immigrant entrepreneurs. While we have been cautiously optimistic the program will yield positive results, USCIS has continued to push EIR forward by announcing the formation of the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) Tactical Team.
USCIS has entered a new phase of the initiative by bringing together the EIR Tactical Team. For 90 days this collaborative team, comprised of both USCIS employees and entrepreneurs from the private sector, will identify opportunities where USCIS can streamline pathways for foreign entrepreneurs. Team members began their work at USCIS in late March. Last week, they traveled to the California Service Center and met with USCIS officers to discuss the visa categories most often used by immigrant entrepreneurs: H-1B, L-1 E-1, E-2, and O-1.
EIR team members come from diverse backgrounds and offer vast business and immigration expertise. The USCIS employees are seasoned professionals with experience in employment-based immigration. The entrepreneurs bring a wide-range of real-world startup experience, including product development, investment and finance, and technology innovation. Team members include (listed alphabetically):
- Luis Arbulu, Founder and Managing Partner, Hattery
- Sunny Choi, Associate Counsel , USCIS Office of Chief Counsel
- Robert H. Cox, Associate Counsel, USCIS Office of Chief Counsel
- Liz Elkiss, Counselor to the Director, USCIS
- Paul Ford, Vice President, Community Development, SoftLayer Technologies
- Ted Gonder, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Moneythink
- Mark E. Harvey, Supervisory Immigration Services Officer, USCIS California Service Center
- Efren Hernandez, Senior Advisor, USCIS Office of Policy and Strategy
- Tanya Howrigan, Supervisory Immigration Services Officer, USCIS Vermont Service Center
- Julia C. Kennedy, Adjudications Officer, USCIS Service Center Operations
- Emery Moore, Supervisory Immigration Officer, USCIS Vermont Service Center
- Blake Patton, Entrepreneur in Residence, Advanced Technology Development Center
- Paul Singh, Partner, 500 Startups
- Catherina Sun, Assistant Center Director, USCIS California Service Center
- Natalie Tynan, USCIS Office of Policy and Strategy
While this is a nice start by USCIS to the EIR initiative, actual, tangible, and substantive results must occur for this program to be considered a success. Time will tell.