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The Startup Act of 3.0 - a Path to Citizenship for Entrepreneurial Immigrants

In the midst of all of the CIR, yet another piece of legislation has entered the fray. The Startup Act of 3.0 is finally getting some traction in Congress, with its recent introduction in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Introduced by a group of legislators led by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the Act would allow for 75,000 individuals who are already in the United States on either H-1B visas or F-1 student visas to gain a path to citizenship. To do this, they would have to invest at least $100,000 and start a business that employs at least two full-time employees. The entrepreneurs would have then three more years to get to at least five employees and then receive permanent legal permanent residence (a "green card").

"The Kauffman Foundation shows data that nearly all net new jobs created over the last 3 decades - nearly 40 million jobs - were created by these high-growth entrepreneurial businesses," Senator Moran says. "In fact, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were started by first- or second-generation immigrants. The businesses high-skilled immigrants create are the source of jobs for Americans, the source of innovation and economic growth."

The Act also benefits STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Masters and PhD students who are on visas to conditionally receive a green card if they remain in their fields for at least five years. Afterwards, they could get permanent green card status.

This bill has been introduced twice before, once in 2010 and once in 2011. With the recent buzz about CIR this year, hopefully this Act will do better than its two predecessors.

A path to citizenship for entrepreneurs already exists through the EB-5 category. However, the investment threshold can be prohibitive for most start-ups. Most H1-B and F-1 student visa holders do not have the $1,000,000 or $500,000 needed to immediately invest and gain green cards through the EB-5 program, especially when typically it only takes $20,000 to $30,000 to build a high tech business. Furthermore, there must be at least 10 jobs created for each EB-5 investment.

Our office is enthusiastic about the Startup Act 3.0. H1-B and F-1 visa holders contribute enormously to the American economy, through their minds, technical skills, and entrepreneurial spirit. It is only fair to offer them a chance to stay in the United States and further contribute to our economy while also creating jobs for local communities.

Contact us if you have any questions about this article or about your own immigration situation!

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