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USCIS Launches Online Resource for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

As part of the Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative launched in February of this year, USCIS has released “Entrepreneur Pathways,” an online resource for immigrant entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneur Pathways is a website that provides entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in the U.S. with general information on the immigration process.  The website is “designed to enhance [USCIS] communications with the entrepreneurial community and provide foreign entrepreneurs with the tools and information to determine which nonimmigrant visa category is most appropriate for their particular circumstance.”

The site comes as the next step in Entrepreneurs in Residence (“EIR”), a USCIS initiative aimed at gathering industry expertise and experience to find ways to increase the job-creation potential of the U.S. immigration system.  The initiative is focused on analyzing government policies and practices to provide foreign entrepreneurs with options that are clear, consistent, and practical.  So far, the EIR has trained a specialized team of immigration officers to handle entrepreneurial cases, incorporated new sources of evidence related specifically to entrepreneurs and startup companies into its adjudicative process, and scheduled engagements with the entrepreneurial community to be held quarterly.  According to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, the goal of the EIR initiative is to realize the “current immigration system’s full potential to attract and retain startup enterprises that promote innovation and spur job creation in America.”

The Pathways website is easily-navigable and provides general information on the various nonimmigrant visa categories available to entrepreneurs, the EIR, and USCIS outreach.  However, although the website provides a guide to available visa options and the application process, it does not cover the intricacies and issues foreign entrepreneurs will face when starting businesses in the U.S.  The Pathways website is nonetheless a good starting place when thinking about starting a U.S. business, but the process itself should never be undertaken without the close assistance of immigration counsel.

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Jennifer G. Roeper practices in the Firm’s Tampa office in the International and Immigration Practice Group.  Ms. Roeper concentrates her practice in the area of immigration, and handles all aspects of immigration law including temporary visa processing, applications for permanent residence and naturalization.  She assists corporate clients in maintaining compliance with U.S. immigration laws, and serves as counsel for clients facing deportation from the United States. 

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