By Uglobal Staff
The U.S. House of Representatives has adopted the America COMPETES Act that proposes several key reforms in the immigration law, including the creation of a separate startup visa category for foreign entrepreneurs as well as green card exemptions for global talent with PhDs in STEM fields.
The text of the COMPETES Act – short for America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022 – is close to 3,000 pages and is aimed at mainly maintaining America's global edge in scientific research, technologies, and trade policies.
New W visa category for foreign startup owners
The COMPETES Act includes the Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act of the U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren, who had introduced the bill in the U.S. Congress in July 2021, which urged the creation of the new visa category, W, for foreign entrepreneurs.
The W visa allows immigrant entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. for an initial period of three years; if certain benchmarks such as 5% ownership stake, creation of at least five jobs, 20% annual revenue growth, annual revenue of $500,000 etc. in the startup company are met, then the visa is renewed and, eventually, it paves the way for permanent residency for the immigrant entrepreneurs and their families.
There are also visa subcategories such as the W-1 for immigrant startup owners, W-2 for essential employees and W-3 for relatives of the main visa sponsors.
Global talent with PhDs to get green card exemptions
The COMPETES Act also allows highly qualified immigrants with PhDs in STEM fields to get permanent residencies in the U.S. without first clearing the hurdle of applying for the green cards, which currently faces massive backlogs.
While the measure would mainly benefit global talent with PhDs in the traditional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, it is also expected to benefit foreign doctors who did their residencies and fellowships in America since the definition of what constitutes the STEM field has been broadened in the House bill.
Similar bills must be reconciled before becoming law
In June 2021, the U.S. Senate had approved the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, which is similar to the COMPETES ACT in the sense that it desires to have America at the forefront of tech innovation and research; but the Senate bill does not have any immigration related provisions for foreigners.
Only after the House and Senate bills are reconciled can the U.S. president sign the legislation into law.
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