Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 2, 2011 - Press Conference Transcript: USCIS Announces Initiatives to Promote Startup Enterprises and Spur Job Creation: Part I

Coordinator: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen only mode until the question and answer session. If you would like to ask a question at that time, please press star 1 on your touchtone phone and clearly record your name when prompted. Todays’ conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.
I’d like to go ahead and turn the call over to your host for today, (Edna Ruano), USCIS Chief of the Office of Communications. You may begin.

Edna Ruano: Thank you, Jose. This is (Edna Ruano), the Chief of the Office of Communications. I am happy to welcome everybody onto the phone call. As to the format and the time frame, we have about 30 minutes with USCIS Director Alejandro (Ali) Mayorkas. So we will have him introduce the topic of today’s announcement and then open it up to questions when his remarks are finished.
Thank you again for joining us today.

Alejandro (Ali) Mayorkas: Thank you very much (Edna) and I should also note that I am joined here in Washington, DC by a number of our subject matter experts should you pose questions that I myself cannot answer. Good afternoon to all of you and thank you very much for joining us to discuss some important issues that impact our nation. How we can continue to attract the best and brightest from around the world to invest their talents, skills and ideas to grow our economy and create American jobs.
Today at a meeting hosted by the president’s council on jobs and competitiveness in Palo Alto, California, the administration announced the series of efforts that the Department of Homeland Security and US Citizenship and Immigration Services will undertake to ensure that the potential of our existing immigration laws is fully realized.
Before I summarize these new efforts, I want to share with you some key findings from a recent study commissioned by the National Venture Capital Association entitled “American Made - The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Professionals on US Competitiveness.” The study includes a number of impressive findings that illustrate the significant contribution to the US economy made by immigrant entrepreneurs and foreign born professionals, scientists and engineers.
I’d like to specifically highlight its’ findings at the current market capitalization of publically trading immigrant-founded, venture-backed companies in the United States exceeds $500 billion. This is an example of the significant wealth creating abilities of immigrant entrepreneurs. Another fining supports what our president spoke about in El Paso, Texas earlier this year.
Many of the largest US venture-backed public companies such as Intel, Selectron, Sanmina, SCI, Sun Michael Systems, Ebay, Yahoo, Google and many, many others were started by immigrants. Moreover, today, immigrant-founded US publically-traded companies employ approximately 220,000 people in the United States and more than 400,000 people worldwide. These companies are concentrated in cutting edge sectors such as high technology, manufacturing, information technology and life sciences. Our current immigration laws support foreign talent who will invest their capital, create new jobs for American workers and dedicate their exceptional talent to the growth of our nation’s economy.
We at USCIS are dedicated to ensuring that the potential of our immigration laws is fully realized and initiatives we announce today are an important step forward. I trust that all of you have received our press release that outlines the initiatives, the efforts that we have made and our announcing today. And if I may just run through them very quickly, I would like to dedicate as much of the time as we allocated to your questions.
And I also appreciate again your joining us. The first is the EB2 visa often referred to as the visa for advanced degree - for individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability. The EB2 visa classification includes foreign workers with advanced degrees and individuals of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business. And generally, an EB2 visa petition requires a job offer and a certification from the Department of Labor.
These requirements relevant to entrepreneurs can - well it’s relevant to others - but it is something that we have heard from the entrepreneurial community as a concern or a lack of understanding that these requirements can be waived under existing law if the petitioner demonstrates that approval of the EB2 visa petition would be in the national interest of the United States.
And so an example of that would be an individual whose endeavor would create jobs for workers in the United States on a scale that would benefit the national interest. We have received feedback with respect to another visa, the specialty occupation visa or H1B visa. Questions whether an entrepreneur or an individual was a sole owner of a petitioning company may establish the - a valid employer/employee relationship for the purpose of qualifying for an H1B non-immigrant visa; a visa which is used by US businesses to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.
And we have published today, an FAQ of frequently asked questions which answers the question that a sole owner of a petitioning company may indeed qualify for an H1B non-immigrant visa if that petitioning company satisfies the requirements of the visa and establishes the employer/employee relationship as is required.
We also have announced the - our intention to expand our premium processing service to immigrant petitions for multi-national executives and managers. We will also be expanding that premium processing service to immigrant investors qualified for the EB5 visa. There are other important reforms to the EB5 immigrant investor visa program that we will be unveiling.
Those include the ability of petitioners to have direct contact with the adjudication team to resolve issues and address questions or concerns that arise in the course of the processing of the petition. And also the opportunity to have an interview with an expert panel to address issues and concerns when the case is further along and we’re refining those proposals and intend to begin their implementation in 30 days.
In addition, beginning August 11 with our first public engagement, we will be hosting a series of engagements with entrepreneurs and stakeholders who are interesting in startup company endeavors. This is an opportunity that is focused on soliciting input from the community on how we at USCIS can address the unique circumstances of entrepreneurs, new businesses and started companies through our policies and regulations in the employment-based arena.
And so we are really speaking of very significant efforts to ensure that existing laws of the potential of the existing laws are fully realized. And we put into effect the legislative intent behind these visa programs. And with that I would welcome whatever questions you might have and (Edna) if you’d be so kind to facilitate that process.

Edna Ruano: Thank you, Ali. Again we are open to questions. (Jose) will help us with the process. So, (Jose) begin. Open it up to questions.

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