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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Be An Entrepreneur In Residence To Help Create A Startup Visa

Comments (90)

As many of you know, I’ve been involved in advocating for the Startup Visa since the idea was first conceived in the fall of 2009. While it’s frustrating to me that some leaders in Congress are much more interested in trying to jam through bills, such as SOPA and PIPA, that fundamentally censor and undermine the structure of the Internet, rather than support entrepreneurs and the corresponding jobs that get created by creating a Startup Visa, I’m optimistic and hopeful that logic ultimately prevails. Other than that, my mentors who know how DC works much better than I do encourage me to stay patient and unemotional and to keep trying.

While Congress has been completely stalled on the Startup Visa, the White House hasn’t. Several months ago I wrote a post about the policy changes that have a material, positive impact immigrant entrepreneurs who apply for a visa. I’ve been on several email threads with Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and have been impressed with his rapid response and willingness to take real action along the lines of the new White House guidelines.

Last week I was briefed on a USCIS “Entrepreneurs in Residence” Initiative. It’s an awesome idea and another example of the White House trying to move the ball forward on the Startup Visa within the current law. Here’s the crux of the announcement

“Most recently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an innovative new Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) initiative, with the immediate goal of recruiting a small “tactical team” of business experts to work with USCIS staff to help streamline operations and enhance pathways within existing immigration law to help immigrant entrepreneurs start and grow businesses in the United States  This intensive 90-day project is a major priority for USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House Startup America initiative.”

While this is an unpaid three month EIR (with the possible extension of another three months), I think it’s a perfect role for an entrepreneur in between gigs who is passionate about helping create a Startup Visa. Take a look at the job description and if this is you,  e-mail a resume to uscis.eir@uscis.dhs.gov before 11:59 p.m. ET on December 31, 2011.

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  • http://MeetInnovators.com Adrian Bye

    ironically US citizenship is required for the position so the key motivation to solve the problem is missing.  

    maybe one day they will get serious about it

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Adrian, I disagree. I think they are very motivated to do what they can within the constraints of the current laws. I’m sure the requirement to be a US citizen is normal for a job like this.

      • http://MeetInnovators.com Adrian Bye

        i looked at the opportunity and actually half considered it, because i know just how much of a problem its caused for me.  i’ve been on US visas since around 1981, and lived in the US fulltime on visas for 9 years.  the visas i’ve had are:  b1, b2, j1, f1, h1b (twice) and now e3.

        it doesn’t seem to me that a US entrepreneur would have the same motivation to bring in new entrepreneurial competition vs someone who has been deeply affected by it.  i think i probably wouldn’t be effective there, so i don’t think this is for me.  but it sure would be a good thing for some aspiring foreign entrepreneur to go do for 3-6 months and i’d sure support them.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          Actually, the number of US entrepreneurs who have been advocating for this are significant. The best entrepreneurs don’t view this as a zero sum game in any way. The more entrepreneurs, the better.

          • http://twitter.com/tobyruckert Toby Ruckert

            I think they
            are serious but also could miss an opportunity for having a
            pragmatic approach to this. I’ve seen this happening in at least one other country that despite great intentions ended up with a visa act that just wasn’t practical for entrepreneurs to consider.There is no doubt in my mind that there are many US entrepreneurs advocating and acknowledging the need for a startup visa both intellectually and practically (been there, done that). But even those who would have gone through the process themselves – I’d say that once you’ve achieved your immigration, the difficulties often fade away quicker than you might want to remember. Also – the issues of today can be very different from the ones experienced yesterday.

            Apart from the law contraints – what disadvantage could it be for the program having an experienced EIR who is
            not a US citizen yet, but must go through the process himself for the
            sake of the project?

            Making
            a move to a new country is something significant. It profoundly changes ones perspective, especially when done the first time. Narrating and experiencing are different. One comes to know the real issues one faces professionally as well as personally when migrating to a new society only when you’re doing it yourself.

            Therefore somebody who has not (recently) gone through that immigration experience won’t
            necessarily observe the subtleties that could lead to practical success or
            failure of such a program.I’d assume that whoever takes that EIR responsibility for the startup visa is going to work closely (on a professional as well as on a personal level) with many entrepreneurs currently planning or making such a life changing move.It would also be great if the countries that are heavily relying on immigration and are already working on startup visa programs could align themselves internationally and exchange on their approach and the experiences gained – though I guess this is likely to collide with their different interests…

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            I agree that this would be great, but I don’t think the White House and USCIS has the ability to hire someone like this. I expect the EIR will spend a lot of time with people in this situation, tracing the process through, and trying to figure things out.

  • Francois

    I am working on a startup myself and am looking for ideas,partners, investors, and key people to join. Send me a message if you want to know more. You only live once- carpe diem! BBDC10@gmail.com

  • http://www.alearningaday.com Rohan

    This would be SO powerful, if done, Brad.
     
    I don’t know where I stand on these issues these days. I have SO much trouble with visas (Indian passport).. and on some days, I wonder if we are really as global a world as we claim to be. 

    I’m still hopeful though.. :) 

  • http://twitter.com/gabdraney Gabriella Draney

    We’re still working on visas for our South African team.  Will definitely send this to all of the mentors for possible candidates.  Thanks for keeping up the fight Brad!

  • James Mitchell

    From the job description on the website:

    Undergo and successfully complete a background
    investigation for determination of suitability for federal employment.
    This position will require access to classified information at the
    SECRET level.This position requires the filing of a Confidential Financial Disclosure Report (OGE Form 450).In
    accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 9.5
    and the Homeland Security Acquisition Regulation (HSAR) Subpart 3009.5
    (48 CFR 30009.507), a potential organizational conflict of interest
    exists pertaining to the services provided pursuant to this assignment
    announcement and mitigation may not be possible. HSAR Clauses
    3052.209-72 (Organizational Conflict of Interest) and 3052.209-73
    (Limitation of Future Contracting) are applicable to this assignment
    announcement.Registered with the Selective Service System (if a male born after December 31, 1959).

    This kind of nonsense does not make me very optimistic.

    I had a friend who was being considered for a subcabinet position. He is an active business guy with a ton of equity and options in various companies, as well as an investor in various equity funds. He spent about two months on this form and over $30,000 in accounting and legal fees. He turned it in and some lawyer with one year of experience out of law school wrote him a detailed letter about the 13 things he had done wrong. At that point he gave up.

    Security clearance? Why?

    All of this for a 3 month unpaid gig? Any guy who is good is going to ask, “What are the odds I am going to have a meaningful impact?” If there is one universal statement you can make about entrepreneurs, it’s that they hate bureaucracy, they hate stupid rules, they hate bullshit. They just want to get the job done.

    Notice is Brad is advocating this for someone else, he is not doing it himself. It’s like me saying, “I really believe in the war against Al Queda, I want YOU to volunteer to go fight in Afganistan while I sit on the beach drinking my martinis.”

    Since Brad is apparently connected, he should tell the government they are going about this all wrong. If the government got rid of these stupid rules, they could get a really good guy to do this. And the requirement that the person be a U.S. citizen sets a new standard of stupidity. The reason Silicon Valley is so extraordinarily successful is that it figured out a long time ago that there are a ton of people who are really smart who are not U.S. citizens.

    Brad, send me the phone number of the guy in charge and I will call him and tell him what he is doing wrong.

    When I was Harvard, I studied defense policy. I had a vague idea of writing a lot of articles on foreign affairs and eventually serving in the government. I am so glad I came to my senses.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      James – you seem to have little to no background on the Startup Visa stuff, the dynamics, or what I’ve been doing with regard to it that last few years. That’s fine, but your statement “It’s like me saying, ‘I really believe in the war against Al Queda, I want YOU to volunteer to go fight in Afganistan while I sit on the beach drinking my martinis’” is nonsensical.

      Re: the clearance level – this is no big deal. Do you research before you flame the government on it. It’s typical for something like this, especially given the sensitivities around USCIS.

  • http://fastessays.co.uk/ fastessays

    Great post, I enjoyed ready
    reading it.

  • Shingceng

    Hi Brad,

    I have recently been investigating whether clarifications made by USCIS
    can help me start a web company in US, but results are frustrating:

    EB-5
    I need to be able to make an investment of $500k+ which I can’t.

    H-1B
    I need to start a company with board of directors which can fire me,
    even if I’m the sole owner of the company!! Technically possible but
    practically impossible! And I still need to pass through H-1B lottery!

    EB-2
    In short I need to prove that I’m going to do something great **based on
    the fact that I have already done some great things** (to qualify for
    National Interest Waiver).

    It off-curse works in academic world (if you have been a good master
    student with tons of publication your are going to be good PhD student)
    or for serial entrepreneurs who would like to do their next venture
    in US. But for first-time entrepreneurs conditions seems far from
    realistic.

    Also a MS or BS+5y of experience or something that show I’m exceptional
    is required.
    (“For example, the entrepreneur might demonstrate such past achievements

    as his or her successful history in obtaining venture capital funding
    from reputable sources, or his or her past participation in incubators
    [...] that have high evaluative standards for participation.”)

    Sources:
    H-1B
    http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=3d015869c9326210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=6abe6d26d17df110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD

    EB-2
    http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=93da6b814ba81310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=6abe6d26d17df110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD

     

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