Third time’s a charm? A group of lawmakers led by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) have launched Startup Act 3.0, a bill that would make it possible for foreign entrepreneurs who employ at least five full time, non-family members to stay in the US for at least three years, as well as have a potential path to permanent citizenship.
Before anybody gets too excited, it’s worth noting that the bill’s predecessors, Startup Acts 1.0 and 2.0, never made it past the Senate floor.
The bill would give an entrepreneurial visa to up to 75,000 foreign born entrepreneurs who have a H-1B or F-1 visa who invest or raise investments of at least $100,000 and start a business that employs at least two full-time employees not related to them. The entrepreneurs would then have three years to grow that staff to at least five, when they could then apply to remove a conditional status on their visa.
“Entrepreneurs who have an idea, who are wiling to invest money here, ought to be welcome here,” Moran told the Hill. “Other countries are moving rapidly to attract and recruit the kind of individuals we need in this country and their entrepreneurial abilities.”
The act also includes a provision that would create visas to allow up to 50,000 foreign students with a master’s or P.hD. in math, science, engineering, math or tech disciplines (STEM) to stay in the U.S. on a “conditional status” if they remain engaged in a technical field for five years, after which they could become permanent legal residents with the option to become naturalized citizens.
While the bill’s first two efforts, including one spurred by Senator John Kerry, failed to see the light of day, the renewed push for immigration reform on the part of both parties following last November’s election gives the bill promise.
Venture capitalist and AOL founder Steve Case testified before Congress in support of the bill this week.
“Numerous bipartisan, high-skilled immigration proposals have been teed up in recent months that contain smart reforms aimed at righting this policy,” said Case. “A combination of these reforms should make up a core component of a comprehensive immigration package. The Startup Act permits entrepreneurs and STEM graduates to stay and set up businesses.”