AILA Quicktake #307: Start-Up Visa Bill Introduced in Congress

On July 26, Representative Lofgren introduced the Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act in Congress. AILA’s Associate Director of Government Relations Diane Rish provides a quick update of the bill and the new visa program it would create.

Video Transcript

AILA Quicktake #307: Start-Up Visa Bill Introduced in Congress

Yesterday, Zoe Lofgren introduced, in the House of Representatives, the LIKE Act, which stands for “Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment”. The LIKE Act seeks to introduce a new temporary visa program. The W visa, which would allow certain immigrant entrepreneurs to establish and maintain their start-up company here in the United States. Despite widespread evidence that immigrant entrepreneurs make significant contributions to the U.S. economy, our immigration laws do not provide a viable visa option for such individuals to start and maintain their companies here in the United States.

Thankfully, LIKE Act addresses this gap in our immigration laws and is an important piece of legislation that will help to promote economic growth, create jobs here in the United States for U.S. workers, and help to maintain our nation's global competitiveness in technology and innovation.

In order to qualify for one of these start-up visas, an individual must possess an ownership interest in a start-up entity that has received the qualifying amount of investments or government grants and awards, play a central and active role in the management or operations of the entity and possess the knowledge, skills or experience to substantially assist the entity with its growth and success.

After three years, if the founder retains an ownership interest in the entity and is met on certain benchmarks such as job creation and revenue generation, the founder can qualify for additional extensions up to five years of their temporary status. If the start-up continues to meet additional benchmarks that demonstrate that the founder has a proven track record of success in business development, the founder can apply for a green card status here in the United States.

The LIKE Act also provides provisions that would allow for the start-up entity to petition for essential workers of the start-up entity who are working in managerial or executive positions. It also allows the founder and the essential employees to petition for their spouse and children to qualify for a temporary visa as well.

The LIKE Act has received considerable support from a variety of organizations, including FWD.us, TechNet, and the Center for American Entrepreneurship. To learn more about this bill, check out AILA's Advocacy Action Center.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 21072708.