The legislation known as the "FRIENDS Act", which provides for two categories of business visas for Portuguese in the US, was passed on Tuesday night with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives of Congress.
Lusodescendant Republican Congressman Jim Costa, who co-sponsored legislation introduced by Democrat David Cicilline at the beginning of the legislative session, called on US Senate members to follow the House of Representatives example.
"I now ask the Senate to join the House and adopt this common sense legislation that will bring shared prosperity to our two great countries," Jim Costa said in a statement.
The Advancing Mutual Interests and Growing Our Success Act [FRIENDS] Act, provides Portuguese access to E-1 and E-2 visas, reserved for persons wishing to enter the United States for trade or significant investment.
"This bipartisan proposal will not only help create more US jobs and increase investment in the country, but will further strengthen ties between the United States and Portugal – one of our oldest allies," said the congressman.
Costa, who is co-president of the Luso-American Caucus of Congress, was reelected in 2018 as representative of the 16th district of California, a region of the São Joaquim Valley where there is an expressive Luso-American community.
The Democrat was co-signatory of the FRIENDS Act alongside fellow Lusitanian Devin Nunes, who represents the 22nd district of California 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 call for speed by David Cicilline, the Democrat who represents Rhode Island's 1st district and leads the law.
It now reaches the Senate at the hands of Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat elected by Rhode Island, and Pat Toomey, Republican elected by Pennsylvania. If approved again, it will be sent to President Donald Trump for promulgation.
In a statement, David Cicilline said opening visas to the Portuguese would facilitate trade between Portugal and the United States and praised the role of Portuguese-Americans and Portuguese in the state of Rhode Island.
"This legislation will break the barriers that currently limit Portuguese investments in US business and projects," said the congressman, underlining "the strong relationship" between the two countries.
The E-1 and E-2 visas are already available to other European countries and the intention is to integrate Portugal in this lot, taking into account the volume of exchanges between Portuguese and US companies, which exceed US $ 4 billion annually.