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Immigration Law for Startups: All You Need to Know in 2022

To attract foreign entrepreneurs, 25 countries, including Canada, the UK, UAE, Australia, and Germany, have come up with some version of a startup visa. This Special visa is ideally set up to attract foreign entrepreneurs by giving them some special benefits.

Additionally, these countries have better immigration laws for startups, thus giving them an edge over the United States and other countries.

Therefore, to initiate the setup and development of venture-capital-backed startups in the US, a new bill has now been drafted. Zoe Lofgren, the Congresswoman, announced the ‘Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment Act’ (LIKE Act), which is meant to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act. And so, what does this Act means to you as a foreign startup entrepreneur?

Here is all you need to know about this new Immigration startups law:

What Is the Like Act (Immigration Law for Startups) About?

Here are some of the key points proposed by this bill:

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1.  It Creates a Nonimmigrant Visa

Nonimmigrant visa is designed for essential employees where the founder of a startup has obtained one of the two visas. This visa is available to a foreign-born founder for an initial tenure of three years. However, to get this visa, the founder has to meet the following essential requirements:

  • He or she should be playing a central or active role in the company
  • The founder should possess the knowledge, skills, or experience to significantly support the startup company with progress and success
  • Should own at least 10% of the startup
  • Have qualifying government awards or grants of at least $100,000
  • Has at least $250,000 raised for qualifying investments from one or more investors

2.  3-Year Extension Eligibility Criteria

The nonimmigrant founder of the immigration startup will be eligible to apply for a 3-year extension if the founder:

  • Retain at least 5% ownership interest in the startup entity that he formed.
  • Continues playing the central and active role in the company
  • Creates not less than 5 qualified jobs to other people besides close relatives or family members
  • Receives not less than $500,000 in additional investments from one or more qualified investors
  • Generate annual revenue of at least $500,000 along with yearly revenue growth of 20% in the US

3.  Permanent Residence

Besides an additional of up to 5 years that a founder can get, he or she can also be granted permanent residence in the United States. This is applicable if a founder showcases a successful track record. A lawful permanent residence will be granted if the founder receives approval for a nonimmigrant visa (green card).

The conditions under which the application will be approved are as follows:

  • The founder must have played a central and active role in the growth and success of the company.
  • The founder must have retained his or her ownership interest.
  • The owner must have created not less than ten qualified jobs
  • The startup should have generated at least $1 million in annual revenue or raised not less than 1.25 million. This should be within a two-year period before applying for a green card.

4.  Create Temporary Nonimmigrant Visas for Employees

For startup employees in executive or managerial positions, the LIKE Act will also enable the creation of temporary visas for them. This Act will allow the creation of a limited number of visas to employees whose services are necessary for the growth and success of that particular startup.

5.  Other Comparable Evidence

This law allows the secretary to classify a founder whose startup entity partially meets one or more of the criteria stipulated in part (1) as a nonimmigrant. This will be applicable only if the secretary can find enough proof that the startup entity has huge potential for job creation and rapid growth.

Key Terms


Refers to the Secretary of Homeland Security

Qualified Job

This term refers to a job situated in the US per week, minimum working hours being at least 35 hours. The Job also needs to have been filed by a qualified employee for at least 1 year.

Qualifying Employee

Refers to US citizen, a permanent resident who is there lawfully, or legal immigrant authorized to work in the united states.

Qualifying Investment

There are two ways in which this term can be defined; In General or Exclusions. Overall, the term refers to investment gained from lawfully obtained capital earned in good faith.

These are just a few terms that are mostly throughout this newly proposed Act. Besides these key terms, another important immigration program may be of great importance to you and your startup. The program is Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.

So, what’s this program, and can it be beneficial to you as an immigrant startup founder? Well. Let’s see.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

DV program, also known as Green Card Lottery, is another ideal visa program that a startup entrepreneur can apply for. Thanks to this program, up to 55,000 immigrant visas can now be awarded each year.

All foreign nationals are given a chance to participate in a random drawing with the potential of getting an immigrant visa. This program can allow you to move to the US and start or expand your business if you already have a startup up and running.

To learn more about this program, be sure to check State Department’s Diversity Visa site.

What Does Immigration Law for a Startup Mean to the Us and Its Economy? 

According to congresswoman Lofgren “Start-up companies create an average of three million net new jobs per year, more than four times as many jobs as mature companies.” She added that “despite widespread evidence that high-skilled immigrants are fueling the next generation of high growth companies, our current immigration laws don’t provide a viable visa option for such individuals to start a new adventure.”

Additionally, the president and CEO of NVCA, Bobby Franklin, also backed the creation of this bill. He said that “making America the world’s best place to start a new business a win for job creation, economic growth, innovation, and US global competitiveness.”

Final Thoughts

It is essential that you read and understand immigration law for startups to avoid complications when applying for a nonimmigrant visa. Ideally, I would recommend opting for Iowa immigration lawyer services to help you ensure every single detail concerning your immigration startup entity is well dealt with. They can help link you with reputable companies that help immigrants to help you with quick transitioning.


Some other articles you might find of interest:

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Do you have what it takes to start and run an online business?

5 Key Skills You Must Have to Start & Run an Online Home Based Business

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