FWD.us Statement on Introduction of the LIKE Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Representative Zoe Lofgen (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4681, the “Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment Act of 2021,” or the LIKE Act, to help immigrant innovators establish and develop start-up companies in the United States. FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement:

“We once again commend Representative Lofgren for introducing the LIKE Act of 2021, smart, forward-looking legislation that would allow aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs to build their companies in the United States, boosting economic growth, creating jobs for Americans and keeping the U.S. globally competitive. For decades America was the top destination for talent from around the globe — at times by default — but this will not happen simply by circumstance in the 21st century.

“As the United States continues to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, legislation such as the LIKE Act will help spur innovation and create jobs for U.S. workers. Modernizing the immigration system is urgently needed to maintain our global economic leadership and to grow our future workforce. Every day we fail to modernize our outdated immigration system, we put our role as the global economic and innovation leader more at risk.

“We urge other Members to sign on in support of this important legislation, and for Congress to swiftly pass this bill.”

H.R. 4681, the “Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment Act,” or LIKE Act, encourages immigrant innovators to establish and develop their start-up companies in the United States to spur U.S. economic growth, create jobs for U.S. workers, and enhance our competitive advantage on the world stage. Despite widespread evidence indicating that immigrant entrepreneurs are significant contributors to the U.S. economy, our current immigration laws do not provide a viable visa option for such individuals to launch a new venture.

Immigrants are highly entrepreneurial, starting companies at nearly twice the rate of native-born Americans. Immigrant entrepreneurs have founded more than half of billion-dollar valued startups in the U.S., each creating thousands of jobs in the process. Too often, however, this success has come despite the failed immigration system, not because of it. The United States has no dedicated immigration pathway for entrepreneurs. It’s time to change that.

The LIKE Act builds on the success of the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), a program established by the Obama Administration and recently affirmed by President Biden. While IER provides important opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs, it does not offer the certainty of access to permanent residency for founders or their employees. Meanwhile, other countries are bolstering their “startup visa” programs to attract immigrant founders. The LIKE Act would give entrepreneurs, investors, and employees the certainty of knowing these companies can grow in the U.S.

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