“It is a very important step because it allows business travel, for economic and business reasons to the US, to be made much easier,” said Augusto Santos Silva.
“Of course, this obeys a principle of reciprocity that, on our part, is full,” he added.
Law proposal H.R. 565, “Advancing Mutual Interests and Growing Our Success” (AMIGOS) Act, provides for Portuguese access to E-1 and E-2 visas, reserved for people who want to enter the US for significant trade or investment.
The legislation was approved with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives of the US Congress and will now proceed to the Senate, which if approved, will refer it to President Donald Trump for ratification.
The head of Portuguese diplomacy was confident in the approval by the Senate and stressed the importance of the method of approval of that legislation.
The E-1 and E-2 visas are already available for other European countries and the intention is to integrate Portugal in this lot, considering the volume of exchanges between Portuguese and American companies, which exceed $4 billion annually.
For this reason, Portuguese-language congressman Jim Costa, who co-sponsored the legislation introduced by Democrat David Cicilline at the start of the legislative session in January, appealed to members of the US Senate to follow the example of the House of Representatives.
Costa, who is co-chair of the Portuguese-American Caucus of Congress, was re-elected in 2018 as a representative of the 16th district of California, a region of the San Joaquin Valley where there is a significant Portuguese-American community.
The Democrat was a signatory to the AMIGOS Act alongside the also Portuguese-descendant Devin Nunes, who represents California’s 22nd district by the Republican Party.
The proposal had been approved by the Judiciary Commission in late October and went to the House of Representatives with a request for speed made by David Cicilline, the Democrat who represents the 1st district of Rhode Island and leads the legislation.
It now reaches the Senate at the hands of Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat elected by Rhode Island, and Pat Toomey, a Republican elected by Pennsylvania. If approved again, it will be sent to President Donald Trump for promulgation.
In a statement, David Cicilline said the opening of visas to the Portuguese will facilitate business exchanges between Portugal and the US and praised the role of the Portuguese-Americans and the Portuguese in the state of Rhode Island.
A first version of the legislation had been introduced in the previous legislative session but was not voted.
The text, which was again introduced on 15 January 2019, explains that the opening of the E-1 and E-2 to the Portuguese will be made on the condition that the Portuguese government offers the same nonimmigrant status to US citizens who want to make this type of investment in Portugal.