USCIS has proposed a new regulation allowing the agency to grant parole to certain foreign-born entrepreneurs who establish start-up businesses in the United States. This is not a new law, but rather a regulation which would implement one of President Obama’s proposals for encouraging innovation. USCIS expects 3,000 persons will qualify for parole annually under this program although there are no numerical limitations.
When will the program become effective?
After the proposed regulation is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 45-day public comment period. USCIS will need to consider each of the public comments and may modify the proposed regulation. The final regulation is expected to be published in late 2016 or early 2017.
Who will qualify?
- Persons who have established a start-up business in the U.S. within three years before they apply for a parole;
- Persons who own 15 percent or more of a start-up;
- Persons who play an active role in the business (passive investors will not qualify);
- The start-up must have received at least $345,000 in capital from qualified U.S. investors or a minimum of grants from federal, state and local governments in the U.S. If these funding criteria are not met, the entrepreneur would have to demonstrate the start-up’s potential for rapid growth and job creation;
- No more than three entrepreneurs could be granted parole for a single start-up; and
- Spouses and children of an entrepreneur will also be eligible for parole.
The business cannot be an investment vehicle primarily engaged in the offer, purchase, sale or trading of securities, futures contracts or similar investments.
How can I apply for the program?
USCIS is currently developing Form I-941, Parole for Entrepreneur status. There will be a filing fee of $1,200 plus an additional fee for biometrics. In addition to the parole, entrepreneurs and their families will receive travel documents. Persons may apply for this program from inside the U.S. or abroad. Entrepreneurs are restricted to working for the start-up while spouses are free to work wherever they please.
How long will the parole last?
Initially, the parole would be issued by USCIS for two years. The parole could be extended up to five years if the start-up continues to operate, attracts more investment, creates more jobs, etc. However, if the start-up ceases to operate or provide significant public benefits, USCIS can revoke the parole.
The entrepreneur’s stake in the start-up is allowed to decline to no less than 10 percent. However, the start-up must be shown to have created a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers, generate $500,000 annually, or grow at a 20 percent pace.
Parolees are required to maintain an income level of 40 percent of the HHS Poverty Guidelines. Spouse’s income may be included.
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