On August 24, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a proposed rule that would enable entrepreneurs from around the world to apply for parole for a period of two years in order to grow their business in the United States.  In proposing the rule, the Department of Homeland Security evoked its discretionary authority under Section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which allows DHS to grant parole to individuals on a case-by-case basis for humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit. Our Tampa immigration lawyers explain.

Proposed Rule Requirements

The following are the requirements described in the proposed new rule:

  1. A significant ownership interest in the start-up entity (proposed as at least 15%)
  2. Active and central role in the operations as well as future growth of the entity (cannot be a mere investor)
  3. Entity was formed in the United States within the past 3 years, AND
  4. The start-up has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation as evidenced by:
    1. Receiving a significant amount of capital (at least $345,000) from qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments
      1. U.S. Investors are U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, or U.S. legal entities that are majority owned and controlled by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
      2. Direct relatives and spouses of the entrepreneur are excluded
    2. Receiving significant awards or grants (of at least $100,000) from a federal, state, or local government entity that regularly provides such awards or grants to start ups
    3. Partially meeting one or both of the above criteria as well as other reliable and compelling evidence
  5. The business entity may not be an investment vehicle primarily engaged in the offer, purchase, sale or trading of securities, futures contracts, derivatives or similar instruments
  6. Qualified investors must have made investments in startup entities in exchange for equity or convertible debt in at least 3 separate calendar years comprising a total in such 5-year period of no less than $100,000 (with at least 2 of those entities creating at least 5 qualified jobs or generating at least $500,000 in revenue with an average annualized revenue growth of at least 20%)
  7. Qualified Jobs means full-time jobs filled by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or other immigrants lawfully authorized to be employed in the US (excluding direct relatives or spouse of the entrepreneur and independent contractors) (fulltime employment means 35 hours per week, and does not include combinations of part time positions)
  8. Once admitted, the entrepreneur must maintain household income of greater than 400 % of the federal poverty guideline

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The rule will take effect on the date indicated in the Final rule when published in the Federal Register. Prospective entrepreneurs would be granted an initial stay of up to 2 years with a possible extension of up to 3 years as long as the entrepreneur can demonstrate continued qualification (entity continues to operate, substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation, active and central role, at least 10% ownership interest).  Applicants for re-parole for up to three years must show that the startup: (i) received at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, qualified government grants, or awards or a combination) during initial parole period, (ii) created at least 10 qualified jobs with startup entity during the initial parole period or (iii) reached at least $500,000 in annual revenue and averaged 20% in annual revenue growth during the initial parole period or (iv) can provide other reliable and compelling evidence of the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Employment Authorization In The U.S.

Parole status would be evidenced in the entrepreneur’s passport and I-94 which would evidence employment authorization. Under the rule, the entrepreneur would be able to work immediately upon arriving in the United States with parole status, but they may only work for the start-up entity.  Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also apply for parole. Spouses of entrepreneurs who wish to work are entitled to apply for a work permit after admission.

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For Questions About Immigration Visas, Contact Our Miami Immigration Lawyers

This new rule is a step in the right direction, as the US immigration system has not been revamped in decades and makes it extremely difficult to attract foreign entrepreneurs and investors under our current immigration system.  If you are interested in learning more about this option, please contact an experienced Miami immigration lawyer today for an initial consultation at (407) 478-1111 for our Orlando office or (305) 455-0590 for our Miami office.