A startup visa would make it easier for entrepreneurs in STEM fields to immigrate to the US
The US House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act to introduce a startup visa on Feb 4. A start up visa would make it easier for entrepreneurs to immigrate to the US.
The act also provides for an unlimited number of green cards to be issued to foreign citizens who have earned a doctoral degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) from a US institute.
The House and Senate are currently working to reconcile their differences on the legislation before sending it to President Joe Biden to sign it into law.
It may be interesting to know that while most developed countries such as Australia, Canada, and the UK do have the provision of a visa for entrepreneurs, the US has been lagging behind in this regard.
The main idea behind introducing the concept is to boost manufacturing in the US. This will encourage innovation and create a stronger supply of highly skilled manpower in the country.
So, as the US Congress works to roll out a startup visa, the American Bazaar caught up with immigration attorney Naresh M. Gehi, founder of Gehis Immigration & International Legal Services.
An immigration, foreign investments, and tax expert, he is admitted to practice law in India as well as New York and Connecticut. Gehi is also an advisor to the government of Guyana and has worked in the team of Hillary Clinton.
AB: Tell us everything about the startup visa and how it can help Indians who would like to work and then later settle down in the US?
NG: The US House of Representatives passed what is called the America COMPETES Act that aims to take on China in the field of attracting innovation and entrepreneurship and stronger supply chains.
The House version of the America COMPETES Act also features immigration-related changes for those wishing to undertake entrepreneurship and STEM doctorates allowing them easier access to a green card.
America loses out to countries like Canada for want of a tailored startup visa. The Act aims to fill the gap and strengthen America’s startup culture. The Act will be beneficial for countries like India.
AB: What does the new classification ‘W’ nonimmigrant visa for foreign entrepreneurs and their families and ‘essential’ foreign workers mean?
NG: The Act will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act for providing startup visas. The ‘W’ category visa will be classified into three categories namely W-1, W-2 and W-3.
‘W’ category of visa is mainly for foreign entrepreneurs, their families and ‘essential’ foreign workers in such enterprises. The icing on the cake is that family members are also eligible to receive work permits. Furthermore, it also provides a pathway to a green card that can lead to American citizenship.
W-1 visa will be given to foreign nationals who have ownership interest in startups, W-2 visa is for staff critical for operation of the startup and W-3 visa for the spouses and children of W-1 and W-2 visa holders.
AB: How does it help in providing a pathway for them for a green card which can lead to American citizenship?
The foreign national should have at least 10% stake in the startup along with $250,000 of qualifying investments from a US citizen or organization or $100,000 in government awards or grants in the 18-month period preceding the date of petition.
The Act also removes any limit to green card issuance to those who hold a doctoral degree in STEM from a US university or an equivalent foreign institution.
The Act also has provisions for Hong Kong residents who wish to stay and work in the US. After a year of holding a ‘W’ visa, the America COMPETES Act permits adjustment to a green card.
Certain conditions relating to funding, turnover, job creation in addition to having an ownership interest in the startup and playing an active role in its management or operation are required to be met.
AB: What is in it for highly skilled people in STEM to pursue their professional careers in the US?
NG: This Act also provides for an unlimited number of green cards to be issued to foreign citizens who have earned a doctoral degree in STEM fields from a US institute of higher learning or an equivalent degree from a foreign university. Spouses and children are covered under this green-card program.
In addition to the startup visa and removal of green card caps for STEM Phd holders and their families, the America Competes Act has several immigration proposals for Hong Kong residents.
AB: How will this act help the US and its economy?
NG: This is a great benefit which will help enterprising people specially in the IT industry and pharmaceutical industry and individuals who are engaged in research or have a strong acumen for any business.
This is a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs who are very creative and have brilliant ideas in expanding their horizons in the financial world.
The main purpose of this visa for the US is to reward these individuals to come and work in the US, create jobs, help to grow the economy and fill the vacuum in areas where the jobs are very much needed.