New ‘America Competes Act, 2022’ aims at encouraging foreign startups in the US



With the aim at boosting manufacturing, and creating stronger supply chains in the US, especially against the rising Chinese competition, the US House of Representatives has passed the House version of the ‘America Competes Act, 2022’.

This Act focuses on several immigration-related provisions, which would help foreign entrepreneurs and those having a doctorate in the STEM field.

It creates a new classification of ‘W’ non-immigrant visas for foreign entrepreneurs, their families and ‘essential’ foreign workers in such enterprises. The icing on the cake is that family members are also eligible to receive work permits. Further, it also provides a pathway to a green card that can lead to American citizenship.

The entrepreneur needs to have an ownership stake of at least 10% in the startup, received during the 18 months prior to the filing of the visa application, and at least $250,000 in investments from US citizens or organizations or at least $100,000 in government awards or grants. This startup needs to have been formed in the past five years.

“A startup visa has been our top priority for many years and we are thrilled to see it advance out of the House. This concept has always enjoyed bipartisan support because it allows the world’s top entrepreneurs to create new companies and jobs here in the US,” said Bobby Franklin, president of the National Venture Capital Association.

Currently, the US does not have a startup visa. Instead, an International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) exists, which enables eligible foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the US for two-and-a-half years, with the possibility of an extension of similar tenure.

The criteria of funds raised are similar, as in the America Competes Act, of a minimum of $250,000 for qualified US investors or $100,000 from government grants.

After a year of holding a ‘W’ visa, the America Competes Act permits adjustment to a green card. Certain conditions relating to funding, turnover, job creation in addition to having an ownership interest in the startup and playing an active role in its management or operation are required to be met.

This Act also provides for an unlimited number of green cards to be issued to foreign citizens who have earned a doctoral degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) from a US institute of higher learning or an equivalent degree from a foreign university. Spouses and children are covered under this green-card program.

In addition to the startup visa and removal of green card caps for STEM Ph.D. holders and their families, America Competes Act has several immigration proposals for Hong Kong residents.

“The Senate has passed a version without the immigration provisions. They will have to hammer out a compromise bill and send it back to each house for a new vote,” immigration attorney Greg Siskind stated.