United States: USCIS Proposes Parole Program for Foreign Entrepreneurs

If the proposal is implemented, foreign entrepreneurs who have established a business in the United States, demonstrate significant U.S. funding and show that their business has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation would be eligible to apply for up to five years of authorization to stay in the United States.

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Aug 26, 2016

A new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposal would create a mechanism to allow up to five

years of temporary stay, on a case-by-case basis, for qualifying foreign entrepreneurs who establish a U.S. start-up entity that has substantial U.S. investment and the potential for rapid growth and job creation. The proposed regulation is expected to be published in the Federal Register on August 31.

The long-awaited proposed regulation was first announced in November 2014 as part of President Obama's planned executive actions to encourage innovation and support U.S. high-skill businesses and workers . The purpose of the program is to fill a gap in the U.S. immigration system and allow promising foreign entrepreneurs who might not meet the eligibility criteria of existing visa programs to remain in the United States to grow their businesses and make contributions to the U.S. economy.

However, the program would not provide an immigration status to approved applicants. Rather, qualifying entrepreneurs could receive parole - a discretionary permission to remain in the United States - but would not be eligible for permanent residence unless they qualified under another U.S. immigration program.

Qualifying Entrepreneurs

A foreign entrepreneur could demonstrate eligibility for the parole program by meeting the following criteria:

  • The applicant must have established a U.S. start-up business within three years before the application for parole;
  • The applicant must hold an ownership interest in the startup of at least 15 percent;
  • The applicant must play an active and central role in the operations of the business, and not merely be an investor; and
  • The start-up must have received a capital investment of at least $345,000 from qualified U.S. investors or at least $100,000 in grants or awards from qualifying U.S. federal, state or local government entities. Foreign nationals who only partially satisfy the funding criteria would need to provide additional compelling evidence of the start-up's substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Duration of Stay in the United States

Approved entrepreneurs would be paroled into the United States for an initial period of up to two years, and would be authorized to work for the start-up entity only. Qualifying dependents would also receive parole for up to two years, and spouses would be eligible to apply for employment authorization.

An additional three years of parole could be granted if the entrepreneur demonstrated that the entity continues to operate; the entrepreneur continues to play a central role in the business; and the business has created jobs, received substantial additional funding, generated significant revenue or a combination of these.

As a discretionary grant, parole could be revoked by the U.S. government at any time if the start-up ceases operations or otherwise ceases to provide a significant public benefit to the United States.

No more than three entrepreneurs could be granted parole per start-up entity.

What's Next for the Proposed Entrepreneur Parole Program

Once the regulation is published, individuals and organizations will have 45 days to provide feedback. After the public comment period closes, DHS will review the feedback it receives and prepare to issue a final version of the regulation, which could differ from the proposal. The entrepreneur parole program would not be implemented until the final regulation is approved, a process that is likely to take several months.

If you have any questions about the entrepreneur program or would like to comment on the proposed
regulation, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen. This alert is for informational purposes only.

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