International Entrepreneurial Parole
International Entrepreneurial Parole is discretionary parole authority in designed to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the U.S.
Until now, the needs of international entrepreneurs were not addressed in immigration framework. There are many U.S. visa types available to foreign businessmen but none of them design for modern entrepreneurs and business founders. For example, the E-2 investor visa has been an option but its availability is restricted only to citizens of certain designated treaty countries. The H-1B work visa allows many talented professionals to work in the U.S. for an employer but there are significant challenges in the regulatory framework for H-1B for self-sponsorship.
DHS amended its regulations Section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) implementing its authority to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States.
This final rule will be effective on July 17, 2017.
An applicant would need to demonstrate that his or her parole would provide a significant public benefit because he or she is the entrepreneur of a new start-up entity in the United States that has significant potential for rapid growth and job creation. DHS believes that such potential would be indicated by, among other things, the receipt of (1) significant capital investment from U.S. investors with established records of successful investments or (2) significant awards or grants from certain Federal, State, or local government entities.
An individual seeking to operate and grow his or her start-up entity in the United States would generally need to demonstrate the following to be considered for a discretionary grant of parole under this proposed rule:
1. Formation of New Start-Up Entity. The applicant has recently formed a new entity in the United States that has lawfully done business since its creation and has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. An entity may be considered recently formed if it was created within the 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing of the initial parole application. See 8 CFR 219.12(a)(2), 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)
2. Applicant is an Entrepreneur. The applicant is an entrepreneur of the start-up entity who is well-positioned to advance the entity’s business. An applicant may meet this standard by providing evidence that he or she: (1) possesses a significant (at least 10 percent) ownership interest in the entity at the time of adjudication of the initial grant of parole; and (2) has an active and central role in the operations and future growth of the entity, such that his or her knowledge, skills, or experience would substantially assist the entity in conducting and growing its business in the United States. See final 8 CFR 212.19(a)(1). Such an applicant cannot be a mere investor.
3. Significant U.S. Capital Investment or Government Funding.
The applicant can further validate, through reliable supporting evidence, the entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. An applicant may be able to satisfy this criterion in one of several ways:
- Investments from established U.S. investors. The applicant may show that the entity has received significant investment of capital from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments. An applicant would generally be able to meet this standard by demonstrating that the start-up entity has received investments of capital totaling $250,000 or more from established U.S. investors (such as venture capital firms, angel investors, or start-up accelerators) with a history of substantial investment in successful start-up entities.
- Government grants. The applicant may show that the start-up entity has received significant awards or grants from Federal, State or local government entities with expertise in economic development, research and development, or job creation. An applicant would generally be able to meet this standard by demonstrating that the start-up entity has received monetary awards or grants totaling $100,000 or more from government entities that typically provide such funding to U.S. businesses for economic, research and development, or job creation purposes.
- Alternative criteria. An applicant who partially meets one or more of the above criteria related to capital investment or government funding may be considered for parole under this rule if he or she provides additional reliable and compelling evidence that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States. Such evidence must serve as a compelling validation of the entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
Adjudication of Petitions for International Entrepreneurial Parole
USCIS officers will consider the totality of the evidence, including evidence obtained by USCIS through background checks and other means, to determine whether the applicant has satisfied the above criteria, whether the specific applicant’s parole would provide a significant public benefit, and whether negative factors exist that warrant denial of parole as a matter of discretion. To grant parole, adjudicators will be required to conclude, based on the totality of the circumstances, that both:
(1) The applicant’s parole would provide a significant public benefit, and
(2) the applicant merits a grant of parole as a matter of discretion.
Minimum Investment Amount for International Entrepreneurial Parole
An applicant would generally be able to meet the investment standard by demonstrating that the start-up entity has received investments of capital totaling $250,000 or more from established U.S. investors (such as venture capital firms, angel investors, or start-up accelerators) with a history of substantial investment in successful start-up entities. In addition, the time-frame during which the qualifying investments must be received is 18 months immediately preceding the filing of an application for initial parole.
Definition of Entrepreneur
DHS allows individuals who have an ownership interest of at least 10 percent in the start-up entity at the time of adjudication of the initial grant of parole, and at least a 5 percent ownership interest at the time of adjudication of a subsequent period of re-parole, to qualify under this definition.
Qualified Investor Definition
An individual or organization may be considered a qualified investor if, during the preceding 5 years the individual or organization made investments in start-up entities in exchange for equity or convertible debt comprising a total within such 5-year period of no less than $600,000.
International Entrepreneurial Parole Period
The initial parole period would begin running on the date the individual is initially paroled into the United States. There are two potential parole periods of up to 30 months each. Specifically, 8 CFR 212.19(d)(2) now provides that an applicant who meets the eligibility criteria (and his or her spouse and minor, unmarried children, if any) may be considered under this rule for a discretionary grant of an initial parole period of up to 30 months (2.5 years) based on the significant public benefit that would be provided by the applicant’s (or family’s) parole into the United States and 8 CFR 212.19(d)(3) provides for re- 30 months in order to extend the initial parole period, for the overall 5-year period of parole limitation.
Application for International Entrepreneur Parole
Applicant for Entrepreneur Parole should file an application of Form I-941. Additionally, dependent family members (spouses and children) seeking parole with the principal applicant will be required to file an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131) and submit biographical information and bio-metrics.
Adjustment or Change of Status
Individuals may apply for any immigrant or non-immigrant classification for which they may be eligible (for example H-1 classification or as a lawful permanent resident pursuant to an EB-1, First Preference Visa). Because parole is not considered an admission to the U.S., parolees are ineligible to adjust or change their status in the United States under many immigrant or nonimmigrant visa classifications. After the new classification is approved the individual must depart the United States and apply for a visa with the Department of State (DOS) for admission to the United States as a nonimmigrant or lawful permanent resident.
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