Before I dive into this week’s episode, I want to take a moment to let you all know that I’m looking for international startup founders to be guinea pigs for filing for what’s called entrepreneur parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). The IER was created through an executive order after President Obama was unable to persuade Congress to create a startup visa and was finalized during the waning days of his administration. The Trump administration took action to do away with it but didn’t follow the proper procedure to do so, and the rule remains on the books. Take a look at the requirements for the rule, and contact me here if you think your case would serve as a strong one under the IER.
Now, back to this episode of Immigration Law for Tech Startups. I’m absolutely thrilled to be joined by Lilly Wahl-Tuco, a U.S. diplomat and innovator.
For 15 years, Lilly has been a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State in variety of positions, serving in Paris, Skopje, Sarajevo, and Washington, D.C. In 2012, she co-founded Balancing Act, an innovative group that helped modernize HR policies at the State Department by advocating for programs and policies that improved and continue to improve the work-life balance of employees.
The State Department operates the U.S. embassies and consulates where foreign service officers process visas and green cards for individuals living outside of the United States. In fact, Lilly’s first assignment was conducting visa interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. What many people may not know is that through its embassies and consulates, the State Department also organizes and sponsors entrepreneurship events, programs, and grants to inspire budding entrepreneurs in the host countries, as well as facilitate exchanges with the U.S. Lilly served as the State Department’s first Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) officer U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“What I tell entrepreneurs that I meet is ‘Inch-by-inch, it’s a cinch,’” says Lilly. “A mentor taught me that. You gotta start small and really think about what you want to do…what are you trying to accomplish and can you get there in small increments?”
Please share this episode with aspiring entrepreneurs, startup founders, or anyone who can benefit from it. Reach out to us if we can help you determine your immigration options whether you’re in the U.S. or abroad.
In this episode, you’ll hear about:
- Lilly’s journey from Naples, Italy, to life as a U.S. diplomat with the State Department
- Her first assignment as a U.S. diplomat, and subsequent assignments
- Lilly’s lessons learned during her career journey
- What it’s like to be a visa or green card interviewer at a U.S. embassy or consulate
- How she helped co-found Balancing Act
- The “cones” of foreign service
- Resources and programs that the State Department offers to international entrepreneurs
Don’t miss my upcoming conversations with other top technology thought leaders, venture capitalists, startup founders, professors, and futurists on Immigration Law for Tech Startups. Subscribe to this podcast here or on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or whatever your favorite platform is. We welcome your rating and review!
A few of the U.S. Department of State’s entrepreneurship programs and grants (more detail can be found on specific embassy websites):
- Office of Policy and Public Outreach
- Resources for Entrepreneurs
- International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)
- Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI)
- African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP)
- Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST)
- Open Grant Solicitations (Check your local U.S. Embassy website)
- Global Entrepreneurship Summits (Check your local U.S. Embassy website)
- Global Entrepreneurship Week is in November (Check your local U.S. Embassy for events)
“Balancing Act’s Formula for Driving Institutional Change” by Lillian Wahl-Tuco
Alcorn Immigration Law publications and courses:
- Subscribe to the Alcorn Immigration Law Newsletter
- Immigration Options Chart
- Immigration Law for Tech Startups eBook
- Extraordinary Ability Bootcamp course for best practices for securing the O-1A visa, EB-1A green card, or the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) green card—the top options for startup founders. Use promotion code ILTS for 20% off the enrollment fee.