USCIS Proposes Parole Program for Entrepreneurs

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing a parole program for entrepreneurs who would provide a “significant public benefit” to the United States. Under the proposed rule, which is in line with the initiatives put in place in President Obama’s November 2014 memorandum on “Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century,” and the July 2015 White House report on improving the current immigration system, certain international entrepreneurs would become eligible for parole into the United States in order to start or grow a U.S.-based businesses.

In order to be eligible for parole, entrepreneurs of startup enterprises must have a significant ownership interest (at least 15 percent) in the startup enterprise and must have an “active and central role” in the business.

The startup enterprise itself must have been formed in the United States within the past three (3) years and must show a “substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation.” The proposed rule indicates that this could be demonstrated through either the receipt of a significant investment of capital ($345,000 or more) from qualified U.S. investors, or through receipt of significant awards or government grants totaling at least $100,000. The rule would also allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consider alternate criteria in order to grant parole on a case-by-case basis to entrepreneurs who only partially satisfy these criteria if other compelling evidence of the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation can be demonstrated.

Under the rule, entrepreneurs could be paroled into the United States. for a period of up to two years to oversee and grow their startup entity in the U.S. Thereafter, requests for re-parole (for up to three additional years for a total of five years maximum) may be considered in cases where the entrepreneur and the startup entity continue to provide a significant public benefit as evidenced by substantial increases in capital investment, revenue, or job creation.  Spouses and minor children of paroled entrepreneur would also be eligible for parole and spouses would be eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

León Rodríguez, Director of USCIS commented on the new rule, stating that “America’s economy has long benefitted from the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs, from Main Street to Silicon Valley. This proposed rule, when finalized, will help our economy grow by expanding immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment and generating revenue in the U.S.”

Once the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 45 day public comment period. The proposed rule does not take effect until the date indicated in the final rule once published in the Federal Register.

D&S UPDATE (6/23/2017) - While the final version of the Entrepreneur Parole Rule was scheduled to take effect on July 17, 2017, in light of President Trump's Executive Order calling for the curtailment of the use of Parole, the implementation of this regulation has been suspended. D&S will continue to monitor and provide updates as they become available.