Monday, September 19, 2016

Immigrant Entrepreneurs

By Angela Lopez

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing a new rule, which would allow certain international entrepreneurs to obtain temporary permission to live in the United States so that they may start or develop their businesses and create jobs!

Under current immigration law, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has discretionary authority to grant permission (aka “parole”), on a case-by-case basis, to individuals who offer a “significant public benefit.” Under the proposed rule, an entrepreneur of a start-up company could be “paroled” into the United States for up to two years if he or she provides a “significant public benefit” by advancing the U.S. economy, enhancing innovation, generating capital investments and creating jobs. Each applicant would be required to demonstrate the start-up was created in the last three years, the applicant retains a substantial ownership interest in the start up and plays an active, central role in the start-up’s day-to-day operations.

Upon being granted “parole,” the entrepreneur would be authorized to work only for the start-up and could be accompanied by his or her spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age. The spouse could also be eligible to receive work authorization. However, this authorization does not give any legal immigration status such as temporary nonimmigrant status or lawful permanent resident status.

Under this program, “parole” would be available to both entrepreneurs (aka foreign nationals) who are inside and/or outside of the U.S.

To qualify for this benefit, the entrepreneur (aka foreign national) would have to meet the following basic requirements:

  • Have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 15 percent) and have an active and central role in its operations;
  • Startup needs to be have been formed in the United States within the past three years; and
  • 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 US) from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments; or
  • Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000 US) from certain federal, state or local government entities.

The Administration expects the final rule to be issued and take effect before the end of 2016.

To review the USCIS proposed rule PDF document, click here.

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