House bill

Internal bill removes green card cap for STEM PhDs and introduces start-up visa

Biden seeks Republican support, urges House and Senate to quickly resolve differences

A new bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives to boost U.S. competitiveness with China includes a proposal to exempt STEM doctorate holders from caps on green cards or permanent residency.

The America Competes Act passed 222-210, largely to party lines Friday, aims to improve supply chains for critical items and spur scientific research and innovation.

The bill “will ensure that America is preeminent in manufacturing, innovation and economic strength and can outperform any nation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

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Immigration-related changes include extending the cap exemption to “healthcare professionals” and master’s degree holders in certain fields deemed critical to U.S. interests.

Additionally, STEM students could claim “dual intent” status, which means they could declare an interest in pursuing a career in the United States after graduation rather than returning to their home first. native country.

Another amendment passed on immigration would create a special visa pathway for a limited number of scientists and engineers identified as contributing to the “national security innovation base.”

The same proposal was incorporated into the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 with bipartisan support, but was deleted during final negotiations with the explanation that the ways of existing visas could serve the same purpose.

Another provision creates a new classification of “W” nonimmigrant visas for foreign entrepreneurs, their families, and “essential” foreign workers in these startups.

The bill not only makes family members eligible to receive work permits, but also provides a pathway to a green card that can lead to U.S. citizenship.

The entrepreneur must have at least a 10% equity stake in the startup, received within the 18 months prior to filing the visa application, and at least $250,000 in investments from U.S. citizens or organizations or at least minus $100,000 in government awards or grants. .

Read: US announces new moves to attract global STEM talent (January 21, 2022)

This startup must have been formed within the last five years. Unlike Canada, the United Kingdom, and several other countries, the United States currently does not have a start-up visa.

Instead, an International Contractor Rule (IER) allows eligible foreign contractors to stay in the United States for two and a half years, with the possibility of a similar term extension. It has similar investment criteria.

After one year of holding a “W” visa, the America Competes Act allows adjustment to a green card. He has certain conditions relating to financing, turnover, job creation in addition to having a stake in the startup and playing an active role in its management or operation.

The House version differs in several respects from the $250 billion bipartisan competition bill, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, passed by the Senate last June.

Both chambers will spend the next few weeks hammering out the differences between the two bills and ultimately send it to President Joe Biden’s office.

Biden praised the House for casting a critical vote “for stronger supply chains and lower prices, for more manufacturing — and good manufacturing jobs — here in America, and for outpacing China and the United States. rest of the world in the 21st century.

“If House Republicans really want to lower prices, make our economy stronger, and compete with China from a position of strength, then they should come to the table and support this legislation, which does exactly that,” he said. declared.

National Venture Capital Association President and CEO Bobby Franklin also welcomed the House’s passage of the America Competes Act, which included a start-up visa.

“A Startup Visa has been a top priority for NVCA for many years and we are thrilled to see it come out of the House,” he said.

Read: House passes bill with more measures for immigrants in STEM fields (February 7, 2022)

“This concept has always enjoyed bipartisan support because it empowers the world’s best entrepreneurs to create new businesses and new jobs here in the United States,” Franklin said.

“As the House and Senate move forward on an American competitiveness package, we urge them to recognize that a start-up visa and the NVCA-approved Endless Frontier Act will have significant impacts on the discovery and advancement of new technologies and create economic opportunities for Americans.

“We also encourage policymakers to remove any counterproductive provisions that impose unnecessary regulatory burdens on US startups.”