The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (Competes) Act of 2022 was passed by the US House of Representatives, and it is intended to make it simpler for entrepreneurs and PhD holders to get residence in the US.
The House version of the Act differs significantly from the one passed by the US Senate last year, The US Innovation and Competition Act of 2021.
As a result, before it becomes law, it must be approved by a nonpartisan conference committee comprised of members from both houses. The Act’s primary goal is to increase America’s competitiveness, but the proposed immigration amendments are projected to benefit certain groups of Indian applicants.
The Act intends to make it easier for company founders to obtain residency in the United States, bringing it in line with countries such as Canada and Australia, which have designated paths to citizenship for startup founders. These are positive beginning measures toward reducing the Indian green card backlog.
Meanwhile, this would not help the hundreds of people who have been waiting for decades because they do not qualify for this program, which requires a doctorate in STEM, according to Nandini Nair, a partner at the law firm Greenspoon Marder. “Regardless, it is my belief that the legislation will go nowhere, as there is a long and almost impossible path for it to ever become law”, said Nandini.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. According to the Act, a foreign national must own at least 10% of a startup and have received at least $250,000 in qualified investments from a US citizen or organization, or $100,000 in government awards or grants, in the 18-month period before the date of the petition.
This could be beneficial to some Indians in the United States who are partners in businesses but do not have clear immigration status.
The Act also eliminates annual limits on the number of green cards that can be awarded to persons having a doctorate in STEM from a US university or an equivalent foreign institution.
“This bill is in line with America’s recent drive to attract and retain the brightest and best talent from across the globe. If this bill was enacted it will greatly benefit STEM PhD holders and qualifying entrepreneurs among others, but it is not likely to directly benefit IT companies or H-1B visa holders,” said Poorvi Chothani, managing partner at LawQuest, an immigration law firm.
She, too, expressed reservations about the bill’s chances of becoming law, citing the onerous legislative process, in which the Senate and House enacted conflicting versions of immigration bills, which would now be considered by a specially established congressional committee.
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