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Support for Immigrant Entrepreneurs in the High Tech Industry

September 9, 2011

In January 2011 President Obama created the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness chaired by Jeff Immelt, the Chairman and CEO of General Electric. The members of this panel include John Doerr, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of the most well-known venture capital firms in the U.S.; Steve Case, a co-founder of AOL; Paul Otellini, the President and CEO of Intel Corporation; and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook.

On August 2, 2011 at the offices of VMWare in Palo Alto, some members of the Council, other leaders in the technology industry, and the U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra met in an open session to brainstorm ideas for creating jobs through entrepreneurship and innovation. A key part of this conversation involved immigration reform.

The session was hosted by TechNet, and its CEO Rey Ramsey said, “Over the last 25 years, immigrants have started one in four U.S. venture-backed public companies. Immigrants are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business in the U.S. than non-immigrants. Just as in previous generations, immigrants continue to play a vital role in our nation’s economic strength and job creation.”

The same day a press release was issued by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas. It announced several initiatives relating to immigrant entrepreneurs:

  • clarification that immigrant entrepreneurs can qualify for an immigrant visa in the Employment-Based 2nd preference category (EB-2) if they satisfy the current requirements and may also qualify for an EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) if they can demonstrate that their business will be in the national interest of the United States;
  • clarification about the circumstances in which a sole employee-entrepreneur can establish a valid employer-employee relationship to qualify for an H-1B non-immigrant visa;
  • expansion of Premium Processing, which allows for speedier adjudication by USCIS, to immigrant petitions for multinational executives and managers; and
  • modifications to speed-up processing of EB-5 investor visas.

Go here for a very general overview of temporary (non-immigrant) and permanent (immigrant) visas.

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