A new bill called “The Startup Act” was introduced in the Senate last week to benefit immigrant entrepreneurs and those in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. The Startup Act states that new companies create jobs in the US and that entrepreneurs must be free to work in the US and to hire employees to get the US back to work.
The Startup Act offers the following three key benefits:
1. Conditional Permanent Residency for Those in STEM Fields.
Aliens holding a master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM field from a US institution can apply for Conditional Permanent Residence (CPR) for up to one year after their F-1 studies conclude. CPR is a temporary green card, valid for a limited period of time and contingent on the green card holder completing certain required actions. At the end of the temporary green card validity period, the applicant must have completed the required actions to obtain a permanent green card, valid for ten years.
To qualify for CPR under this part of the Startup Act, the applicant must be “diligently searching” for an opportunity to become gainfully employed in a STEM field occupation. The alien can be granted CPR for up to five years and can remove the conditions and obtain a permanent green card, or naturalize and become a US Citizen after the five year period, provided the applicant has been employed in a STEM occupation for the duration of the five year period.
2. Conditional Permanent Residency for Entrepreneurs.
The Startup Act provides that immigrant entrepreneurs can be granted CPR for up to four years. The CPR holder is eligible to apply for a permanent green card if:
· the alien holds F-1 or H-1B status
· during the first year of the CPR, the alien
o registers a new business in the US
o the alien’s business employs at least full-time employees who are not members of the alien’s family
o the alien invests or raises capital of $100,000
· during the remaining three years of the CPR, the alien employs at least five full-time employees who are not members of the alien’s family
3. Elimination of Per Country Caps and Rollover of Unused Green Cards.
Finally, the Startup Act phases out the per country caps on green cards over a three year period. It also provides for the rollover of unused green cards.