On August 24, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed a new rule that would benefit foreign entrepreneurs of startup companies that would provide significant public benefit to the United States through substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation. The International Entrepreneur Rule will allow international entrepreneurs to be considered for parole (temporary permission to be in the United States) so that they may start and develop their businesses here in the United States.
Under this proposed rule, DHS may parole, on a case-by-case basis, eligible entrepreneurs of startup enterprises:
- Who have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 15 percent) and have an active and central role to its operations;
- Whose startup was formed in the United States within the past three years; and
- Whose startup has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation, as evidenced by:
- Receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
- Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
- Partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria in addition to other reliable and compelling evidence of the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
In addition, the proposed rule lists two (2) ancillary conditions for eligibility, such as:
- Applicants must maintain household income greater than 400 percent of the poverty line, and
- The qualifying start-up capital cannot come from family members (parents, spouse, brother, sister, son or daughter).
If the application for parole is granted, it would provide a temporary initial stay of up to 2 years (which may be extended by up to an additional 3 years) to facilitate the entrepreneur’s ability to oversee and grow the startup company in the United States.
An entrepreneur who is paroled into the United States under this proposed rule would be authorized for employment incident to his or her parole with the startup entity. The entrepreneur parolee’s employment authorization would be limited to the specific start-up entity listed on the Application for Entrepreneur Parole. This limitation is intended to keep the scope of employment authorization within the purposes for which parole was granted. As the purpose of this proposed rule is to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to develop and grow their start-up businesses in the United States—rather than obtain new sources of employment—DHS believes this limitation on employment authorization is a reasonable restriction.
No more than three entrepreneurs may receive parole with respect to any one qualifying company or entity.
Application Forms, Costs and Decision
- Entrepreneur applicant: Form I-941, Application For Entrepreneur Parole ($1,200) + Biometrics Fee ($85)
- Each Spouse and child(ren): Form I-131, Application For Travel Document ($360) + Biometrics Fee, if 14 years of age or over ($85)
- Spouse only (work authorization): Form I-751, Application For Employment Authorization ($380)
As noted above, an entrepreneur who is paroled into the United States under this proposed rule will be authorized for employment “incident” to his or her parole with the startup entity — this means that the entrepreneur will not receive (and does not need to apply for) an employment authorization document or EAD.
A denial of parole application under this proposed rule cannot be appealed. USCIS will not consider a motion to reopen or reconsider a denial of parole.
Renewal and Continuous Employment Authorization
To facilitate maintenance of continuous work authorization and parole, DHS is proposing that an entrepreneur parolee may file a request for re-parole beginning 90 days prior to the expiration date of his or her current period of parole.
DHS also proposes to automatically extend the employment authorization of those entrepreneur parolees whose parole has expired but who has filed a timely application for re-parole with the same start-up entity. DHS is proposing that this automatic employment authorization will extend for 240 days from the date the entrepreneur’s initial parole period expires, or until USCIS makes a decision on the re-parole request, whichever is sooner, when a request for re-parole was timely filed by the entrepreneur.
Nonimmigrants Currently in the United States
Entrepreneurs who are currently in the United States in other nonimmigrant visa classifications are eligible to apply for parole under this proposed rule. However, once the application for parole is approved, they will need to leave the country and request to be paroled into the United States at a port of entry, as parole will not involve any direct change from other nonimmigrant status.