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Proposed Visa Program for Entrepreneurs Establishing Start-ups In The United States

by Jennifer Grady, Esq.


The Grady Firm is keeping a close eye on the Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 26, 2021. The proposed bill is in the beginning stages, and is currently referred to the House Committee for further study and consideration.


H.R. 4681, the “Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment Act,” or LIKE Act, encourages immigrant innovators to establish and develop their start-up companies in the United States to spur U.S. economic growth, create jobs for U.S. workers, and enhance our competitive advantage on the world stage. Despite widespread evidence indicating that immigrant entrepreneurs are significant contributors to the U.S. economy, our current immigration laws do not provide a viable visa option for such individuals to launch a new venture. The closet current options are the International Entrepreneur Parole Rule (which is not a visa and does not provide a path to a Green Card), the E-2 Visa (which is only available to citizens of treaty countries and requires significant personal investment), and the L-1A visa (which requires employment at the entity for at least one year abroad, and an executive or managerial role).


If released by the committee with a recommendation or revision, the Act will be put on the House Calendar for a vote. This unique temporary visa program's goal is "to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a new class of nonimmigrant visas for entrepreneurs and essential employees affiliated with start-up entities, and for other purposes." If passed, it will open many doors for immigration to the United States for start-up entrepreneurs, executives, and managers, along with their families.


What's Next Before It Becomes Law?


There are several next steps before the LIKE Act can become a law. After being released by the current committee, the Act will have to pass with a majority the in House of Representatives before reaching the Senate. From there, the Senate studies the Act once more through their committee, where it will be released to the Senate Floor for voting. Once approved, the bill must go through the House and Senate once more, with a committee made up of members from both. With the final approval, it goes to the desk of the President, where they will have 10 days to sign it into law or veto.


Eligibility


The LIKE Act provides a three-year temporary visa for start-up owners, which can be extended up to five years, and eventually opens doors to a lawful permanent residence application. In addition to those with ownership interest, the LIKE Act allows start-up entities to sponsor essential managerial and executive personnel who are key in establishing and maintaining the start-up entity.


Eligibility for the LIKE Act are limited to individuals who:

  • possess an ownership interest in a start-up entity of not less than 10 percent;

  • 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.

The start-up entity is subject to additional conditions. Within the 18-month month period before filing the petition, the start-up entity must have received:

  • at least $250,000 in qualifying investments from one or more qualified investors; or

  • at least $100,000 in qualifying government awards or grants.

After three years, individuals can apply for a three-year extension and must meet a more stringent set of conditions regarding the start-up entity's job creation, revenue generation, and growth established in the initial years since the approved visa.


Then, there are two one-year extensions, for which there are additional growth requirements.


Benefits


Ultimately, those who successfully grow their start-ups will have an opportunity for adjustment of status to permanent residency.


Another major benefit to the LIKE Act is a clause that allows individuals seeking a start-up visa to bring their spouse and child to accompany them to the United States. Spouses are also eligible for employment authorization or other appropriate work permit.


The Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment Act opens new doors for immigration for entrepreneurs looking to establish their businesses in the United States.

The Grady Firm will continue to monitor progress of the bill and post updates as available.


If you need more information on eligibility for the LIKE Act, we encourage you to contact our office at info@gradyfirm.com, or call us at (949) 798-6298.


You can also book a call on our calendar at https://www.gradyfirm.com/schedule.

The Grady Firm works with dynamic employers and employees across the country to prepare successful employment-based visa and Green Card applications. In addition, we help individuals, families, employees, business owners, and investors obtain non-immigrant and immigrant visas (B-1/B2, H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, E-2, E-3), as well and Green Cards and citizenship based on family relationships, investment, or employment.


This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.