Yesterday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Linda SĂˇnchez (D-CA) introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021â€”President Bidenâ€™s immigration package and the first comprehensive immigration bill for the new Congress.
If youâ€™ve been following the Fashion Innovation Alliance for a while, you know that immigration policy is critical to the future of fashion and the entire creative economy. After four years of bans and roadblocks for international students and immigrant entrepreneurs, hereâ€™s what you need to know about provisions in the act that relate to fashion and the creative economy.
Our Views on the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021
Dreamers.Â The bill would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA or Dreamers) recipients immediate eligibility for lawful permanent resident status (also referred to as green cards) and an expedited pathway to citizenship. Dreamers must meet certain requirements for green card eligibility.
STEM-advanced degree holders. The bill provides an exemption from numerical caps on visas for individuals with a doctoral degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) from an accredited U.S. university. This includes scientists developing sustainable fabrics, engineers inventing e-textiles, and AI experts creating algorithms to keep fashion and consumers connected in our digital world. Fashion brands determined to survive the pandemic must successfully integrate science and technology into their core business operations. How should brands move forward? Hire humans with an interdisciplinary focus in design and tech, and push for immigration policies that promote and protect talent in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).
Diversity visas. The U.S. Citizenship Act would also increase the number of diversity visas for the green card lottery from 55,000 to 80,000. The Diversity Visa Program is open to immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. There is no cost to register. Graduates from fashion design schools and interdisciplinary programs may look for ways to continue to work and scale their businesses in the United States after their student visas end. The increase in diversity visas would provide an opportunity for international designers and creative entrepreneurs that have studied in the United States to stay here.
No startup visa.Â The latest version of the immigration bill does not include a provision to establish a startup visa for international entrepreneurs in fashion and other creative fields. During the last two presidential administrations, FIA advocated for the Department of Homeland Security to move forward and implement the International Entrepreneur Rule as a temporary solution. Establishing a startup visa in the U.S. Citizenship Act would provide a more permanent path for immigrant designers and creative tech entrepreneurs that want to study and scale their innovations here in the United States.
Interested in more details on the U.S. Citizenship Act? Read theÂ full bill text here.Â