Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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What’s the difference between International Entrepreneur Parole and the latest proposed startup visa?
Do you think the startup visa will become a reality? If so, when?
— Financial Founder
Thank you for your questions! As you likely know, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) recently introduced the Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act, which creates both a startup visa and a startup green card.
Jeff Farrah, general counsel of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), recently discussed the LIKE Act with me on my podcast. The NVCA is working on building support for the LIKE Act on Capitol Hill. However, Congress is currently focusing on the budget reconciliation and infrastructure bills, which means the LIKE Act is taking a back seat to those bills for now — and the timing of the LIKE Act remains uncertain.
How to support the LIKE Act
Farrah says there are things that we can do to support the LIKE Act to become a law and create an official startup visa in the United States. If you live or work in Lofgren’s district, which covers much of Silicon Valley, write her a letter thanking her for introducing the LIKE Act and share your story.
If you live or work in the U.S. outside of Lofgren’s district, write a letter to your congressional representatives, share your story, and let them know why a startup visa and path to a green card for founders is important. (Remember, do not claim to be a U.S. citizen if you aren’t since that could get you permanently barred from the United States!)
You can also ask your friends — immigrants and U.S. citizens alike — to write letters to their representatives in Congress. And if you have friends living abroad who want to come to the U.S. to start their venture, they could write to the congressional representative of the district where they are hoping to create their business and jobs in the U.S.
Now, let’s examine the differences between the proposed LIKE Act and our current new program for startup founders.
International Entrepreneur Parole versus LIKE Act
Like a non-immigrant visa, the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) allows its holder to stay temporarily in the United States. However, IEP is not a visa, so the process in which it is given and extended is different from visas.