Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren introduced recently the Act to kickstart the investments of immigrant start-up companies in the U.S. The LIKE Act, which stands for “Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment”, was introduced to fill the gap of a viable visa for individuals who seek to invest in and contribute to the U.S. economy and create jobs for U.S. workers. The LIKE Act also aims to make the U.S. competitive in promoting and developing new technologies and become a start-up hub that will attract top-notch investors and innovators.
In a speech addressing the congress Congresswoman Lofgren said:
“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.”
Start-up companies were shown to contribute significantly to the U.S. economy and provide employment for millions of American citizens every year. Compared to mature companies, start-ups reach employment numbers four times higher than mature companies (11 years old or older), and they are the sole source for new employment in the U.S. over the last couple of decades.
The new proposed start-up nonimmigrant visa, “W”, aspires to foster the transfer of creative and innovative brains from other countries with ease and upgrade the outdated U.S. immigration policies that block the country’s economic growth and technological progress.
To qualify for the planned three-year W visa, an applicant must:
- Possess an ownership interest in a start-up venture that has sufficient investments or received government grants & awards.
- Be in an essential and ongoing position in the management or operations of the venture.
- Have the necessary know-how to considerably contribute to the growth and success of the venture.
If confirmed, the W visa will be extended after the initial three-year period. The Bill proposes up to five years of extension for prospect visa holders. And for this, the prospect visa-holders must meet certain growth-related benchmarks, such as job creation and revenue generation.
The Start-Up Bill states that if a start-up venture meets certain additional benchmarks that demonstrate the founder has proven series of business development successes, then he or she will be considered for green card status if they apply. The LIKE Act also allows start-up initiatives to petition for workers in executive or managerial positions as well as their close relatives (spouse and children) to receive nonimmigrant visas.