A bill that will make it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs to build start-ups in the US has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California introduced H.R. 4681 or the Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act on July 26. The Startup Visa bill aims to encourage immigrant founders to develop their venture-backed start-ups in the United States. Part of the bill will create a temporary visa for start-up founders and offer a path to permanent residency “if the start-up entity meets certain growth-related benchmarks.”
Lofgren is the chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.
The venture capital industry has called for the establishment of a start-up visa in a bid to entice foreign-born founders to move to the US. Currently, immigrant entrepreneurs can apply for temporary parole status under the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) or other visa categories that are not limited to founders.
Bobby Franklin, president and chief executive officer of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), welcomed the introduction of the LIKE bill, saying it would ignite job creation and support the American economy.
“Making America the world’s best place to start a new business is a win for job creation, economic growth, innovation and US global competitiveness. Immigrant founders have built some of the most iconic American companies, including Moderna and Pfizer that have delivered lifesaving covid-19 vaccines to the American people,” Franklin said.
The NVCA sued the government in 2017 for delays in implementing the IER and has called on the government to make it easier for foreign-born founders to move to the US to compete against other countries.
Under the LIKE Act, qualified individuals can obtain a three-year visa. If the start-up meets growth-related benchmarks such as job creation and revenue generation, the founder can extend their visa or apply for permanent residency.