On 8/31/16, USCIS published a 45-day notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment on the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule. Comments are due by 10/17/16.
The proposed rule would grant parole status to an entrepreneur of a start-up who has an active role in the business. Successful applicants would not have a fixed visa status such as H-1B or E-2. Instead, they would be paroled into the US for 2 years initially, to work for the start-up.
The category differs from investor visas such as E-2 or EB-5, in that the new parole status does not require that the applicant have invested her own money in the business.
1. The entrepreneur must have established a U.S. start-up business within three years before applying for
2. The business must have done some business, and have "substantial potential for rapid growth and
3. The entrepreneur must own at least 15% of the start-up.
4. The entrepreneur be actively involved in managing the business, not be a passive investor.
5. The start-up must have received either (a) investments of at least $345,000 from U.S. investors or
(b) at least $100,000 in grants or awards from qualifying U.S. federal, state or local government entities.
Entrepreneurs who are unable to satisfy the funding criteria may qualify if they provide other compelling evidence of the start-up’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
The private and government funding must meet strict criteria laid out in the regulations, designed to "...mitigate potential misuse of the parole process, including by individuals or entities that may claim to be bona fide investors to conceal fraud or other illicit activity."
The parole could be renewed for another 3 years if the applicant meets certain criteria, similar to the initial requirements. There is no provision for renewals beyond 5 years, and the proposed regulations are silent on how an applicant is expected to stay in the US after the initial 5-year period. The comments to the proposed rule state that "DHS believes that a total maximum 5-year period of parole under this rule (an initial period of up to 2 years, plus one possible re-parole period of up to 3 years) is consistent with the amount of time successful start-up entities generally require to realize their growth potential."
The spouse an minor (under 21) children of an entrepreneur would be granted parole for the same period as the primary applicant. Spouses would be eligible for work authorization.
The entire rule is available at the USCIS website here, and comments can be submitted up to October 17, 2016. For more information, contact Elaine Martin, Dallas Immigration Lawyer.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.