U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Proposes New Parole for International Entrepreneurs

Small business ownerOn August 26, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) proposed a new rule to allow certain foreign national entrepreneurs to be considered for parole (temporary permission to be in the United States), in order to start or grow a business in the United States. On August 31, 2016, the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register, and the public was given 45 days (till October 17, 2016) to provide comment on the proposed rule. Once the 45-day comment period closes, USCIS will address the comments received and issue a final binding rule. USCIS currently hopes to have the final rule in place by the end of the year.

The proposed rule would allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to use its existing authority to parole foreign nationals into the United States, to issue parole to foreign entrepreneurs of startup companies, whose stay in the United States would provide a “significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation”.

Under the proposed rule, DHS may parole entrepreneurs into the United States if they meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The United States based business was formed within the past three years;
  • The entrepreneur possesses a significant ownership interest in the business (at least 15 percent);
  •  The entrepreneur has an active and central role in the operations and future growth of the entity; and
  • The business has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid growth and job creation as evidenced by:
    •  Receiving investments of at least $345,000.00 from established United States based investors such as venture capital firms or start-up incubators; or
    • Receiving at least $100,000.00 in awards or grants from federal, state, or local government entities; or
    • Partially meeting one of the above two requirements and providing other reliable and compelling evidence that the business has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Under the proposed rule, entrepreneurs may be granted parole into the United States for an initial period of two years. At the end of the initial two years, an entrepreneur may apply for an additional three years of parole if they can demonstrate:

  • They have been lawfully operating the business during the initial two-year parole period;
  • The entrepreneur continues to possess a significant ownership interest (at least 10%);
  • The entrepreneur continues to have an active and central role in the operations and future growth of the business; and
  • The business continues to have a substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation as evidenced by:
    • Additional investments of at least $500,000 from U.S. based investors or federal, state, or local government entities;
    •  Annual revenue of at least $500,000.00; or
    • The business has created at least ten full-time jobs; or
    • Partially meeting one of the above criteria and providing compelling evidence that the business has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Once USCIS issues the final rule, entrepreneurs will be able to file for parole by completing Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole, providing extensive documentation relating to their business, and paying a filing fee of $1200.00.

For more information on the proposed rule, contact Hartzman Law Firm, LLC, at (412) 495-9849, or email our principal attorney, Daniel M. Hartzman, at dhartzman@hartzmanlawfirm.com.