By Hugo P. Rojas
Businesses, academic institutions and start-ups will be receiving a boost this year from the Department of Homeland Security. We are on the verge of the first new major business immigration benefit in several years. On August 31, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed a new rule, which would allow certain international entrepreneurs to be considered for parole (temporary permission to be in the United States) so that they may start or scale their businesses here in the United States.
The purpose of the International Entrepreneur Parole rule is to attract and keep immigrants involved with high-potential start-up entities in the United States with the improved ability to conduct research and development and expand the entities’ operations in the U.S. so that our economy can benefit through increased capital expenditures, innovation and job creation. Parole is not a formal admission into the United States, however, it is permission to enter and live in the country, with the government’s knowledge and approval, on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of an immigration agency for “urgent humanitarian” or “significant public benefit” reasons.
There is a significant number of immigrant entrepreneurs who fall between the cracks of our existing business immigration categories that are outdated in today’s economy. For instance, foreign students who are potential entrepreneurs and founders of start-ups have limited ways to stay on a temporary visa after they graduate. Similarly, young immigrants who are researchers and innovators, specifically in new technologies, are not afforded sufficient avenues to develop their own start-up businesses within the United States; this new rule helps fill that gap.
Under this proposed rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may parole on a case-by-case basis, eligible entrepreneurs of startup enterprises under the following requirements:
- Have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 15 percent) and have an active and central role to its operations;
- Start-up was formed in the United States within the past three years; and
- Start-up has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation, as evidenced by:
- Receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
- Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
- Partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria in addition to other reliable and compelling evidence of the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
Under the proposed rule, entrepreneurs may be granted an initial stay of up to two years (with the possibility to renew for up to three additional years) to oversee and grow their start-up entity in the United States. Now that the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, the public will have until October 17, 2016 to comment. If you are involved with start-ups, business incubator groups, academic institutions, or with entrepreneurs in general, your input is crucial. This is your chance to make sure DHS implements this rule in the most business-friendly way possible. To comment visit http://www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCIS-2015-0006-0001, and click on the “Comment Now” link. We will keep you up to date as soon as DHS is able to start accepting applications.
If you have any questions about this proposed regulation or submitting a comment before the October 17th deadline, please contact your Davis & Kuelthau attorney or the author, Hugo P. Rojas at 414.225. 1413 / firstname.lastname@example.org.