The Obama administration’s top immigration official says his agency is working to attract and keep more foreign-born high-tech entrepreneurs who are seeking to start a company in the U.S.

Many Triangle area high-tech companies as well as several universities actively recruit foreign-born entrepreneurs and students. High-tech visas are in high demand. One of the better known proponents of changes in U.S. immigration policy is Vivek Wadhwa, an Indian-born U.S. citizen who was an entrepreneur in RTP before becoming a professor at Duke University and other institutions.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Alejandro Mayorkas says his agency “has not been especially nimble” to adapt to fast-paced changes in the business landscape.

He says that’s changing since the agency added new training for staffers who evaluate business visa applications.

Mayorkas spoke Wednesday at the Sloan School of Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He unveiled a new website that provides entrepreneurs an easier way to navigate their immigration options.

The site is called Entrepreneur Pathways.

“Through our innovative Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative, we are working to realize our current immigration system’s full potential to attract and retain startup enterprises that promote innovation and spur job creation in America,” Mayorkas said. “The first phase has already led to unique improvements in our programs and enabled us to better serve immigrant entrepreneurs.”

Next step? A review of existing laws and practices to ensure that they achieve their full potential.

But Mayorkas adds that is no substitute for legislative reforms.

The latest effort by the agency was launched at a meeting in Silicon Valley called the Information Summit. A team of government and private sector members focused on ways to “streamline pathways for a range of existing nonimmigrant visa categories often used by entrepreneurs,” the agency says.

Highloights of the program thus far, according to CIS:

  • Developed and deployed a training workshop for USCIS employment-based immigration officers that focuses on startup businesses and the environment for early-stage innovations;
  • Trained a team of specialized immigration officers to handle entrepreneur and startup cases;
  • Modified Request for Evidence templates for certain nonimmigrant visa categories to incorporate new types of relevant evidence into the adjudicative process; and
  • Developed a plan for quarterly engagements with the entrepreneurial community to ensure that USCIS stays current with industry practices.