By Uglobal Staff
A bill proposing a new visa category for migrant entrepreneurs, known as the Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act, was introduced in the U.S. Congress on Monday.
House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chair Zoe Lofgren introduced the LIKE Act that aims to attract entrepreneurs from around the world and keep the American economy and innovation standards ahead of the global competition.
The LIKE Act calls for establishing a new visa category, the W, which would enable immigrant entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. initially for a period of three years.
Global entrepreneurs can apply for permanent residency
Although this initial period in the U.S. for migrant entrepreneurs would be on a temporary visa, applicants would have a chance at permanent residency as well after they demonstrate that their startup continues to meet all benchmarks. At the end of this initial three-year period, the main applicant of the startup would be able to apply for an extension of up to five years, the status of which too would be temporary. Once a track record of success of the startup has been firmly established throughout these years, the founder of the company -- the main applicant -- would be able to gain permanent residence.
According to the bill, the proposed W classification for immigrant entrepreneurs is further subcategorized as W-1 for the entrepreneurs with an ownership interest in the startup; W-2 for essential employees; and W-3 for relatives, such as legal spouses and children of W-1 and W-2 visa holders.
Among the main criteria that the immigrant entrepreneurs in the US would have to meet in order to qualify for this visa are that the ownership interest would have to be at least 10% during the initial 3-year period; this drops to 5% ownership at the end of this initial period when the entrepreneur applies for an extension for their startup.
For nonimmigrant entrepreneurs, only those startups would be deemed eligible which had already received at least $250,000 from an investor, or at least $100,000 in government awards or grants, in the 18-months period prior to the filing of their W visa applications. During the visa extension period, the W-1 nonimmigrant entrepreneurs would have to prove that the startup had received at least $500,000 in additional funding as well as the fact that it created five jobs and generated at least $500,000 annual revenue. For the W-1 immigrant entrepreneur, the additional funding requirement has been set to $1.25 million; annual revenue generation at $1 million; while the start up entity would also have to create at least 10 jobs, according to the bill.
In a statement, Lofgren urged her fellow Congress members to pass the bill.
“For the world’s best and brightest innovators seeking a home for their companies, America used to be the top destination. Sadly, that has changed. Today, the technology sector in Canada is growing at a faster pace than it is in America, and it is almost entirely because of restrictive U.S. immigration policies that do not benefit our economic interests. Congress can change that.
“We can make the United States more prosperous by-passing bills like the LIKE Act that stimulate the economy, curb brain drain, create jobs for American workers, and restore our country’s standing as the number one choice for the next-generation of entrepreneurs worldwide,” she said.
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