The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued guidance on parole for international entrepreneurs to enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States.
The guidance provides information on the criteria for consideration for the applicant, start-up entity, and qualified investment or government award or grant, evidence and documentation required, discretionary nature of entrepreneur parole adjudication, conditions on parole and bases for termination, criteria for consideration for an additional parole period, and options available to the entrepreneur’s family to join the entrepreneur as parolees and obtain employment authorization. Parolees may enter and remain in the United States and may be authorized to work.
The international entrepreneur parole regulations allow DHS to grant authorized stay on a case-by-case basis to noncitizen entrepreneurs with a substantial ownership interest in a start-up that can provide a significant public benefit through rapid business growth and job creation. Parolees may enter and remain in the US and may be authorized to work, although they have not been admitted for immigration purposes.
DHS established criteria for the case-by-case evaluation of parole applications filed by entrepreneurs of start-up entities, facilitating the use of parole in this area. DHS published a final rule introducing the criteria for entrepreneurs seeking significant public benefit parole on January 17, 2017. DHS issued a proposed rule on May 29, 2018, that sought to remove the International Entrepreneur Rule but withdrew the proposed removal rule, signifying its support of the program.
Requirements are now published in Volume 3 – Humanitarian Protection and Parole of USCIS Policy Manual.
A. Applicant and Start-up Entity Criteria
An applicant files an Application for Entrepreneur Parole to be considered for parole as an international entrepreneur. To be considered for such parole, the applicant must demonstrate that a grant of parole will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on the applicant’s entrepreneurial role with a start-up entity in the United States that has significant potential for rapid growth and job creation.
An applicant need not be outside the United States to apply. Persons outside the United States, persons in the United States in nonimmigrant status, and those who are in the United States not presently maintaining nonimmigrant status may apply.
If their Form I-941 is approved, those applicants who are in the United States would have to depart the United States and would need to appear at a port of entry to request parole into the United States. However, applicants who are in the United States but are not in a lawful status (for example, their Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) expired and they are no longer in a nonimmigrant status) may have accrued unlawful presence and may face immigration consequences upon departure from the United States.
1. Applicant Requirements
- The applicant must have a central and active role in the operations of the start-up entity.
- Within that role, the applicant must be well-positioned, due to their knowledge, skills, or experience, to substantially assist the entity with the growth and success of its business.
- The applicant must also have a substantial ownership in the start-up entity. USCIS considers the applicant to have substantial ownership if the applicant possesses at least a 10 percent ownership interest in the start-up entity at the time of adjudication of the application
- If granted parole, an applicant may reduce their ownership interest below 10 percent during the period of initial parole, so long as the applicant maintains at least a 5 percent ownership interest in the start-up entity during the initial parole period.
- While the applicant does not need to be the sole owner, no more than three entrepreneurs may be granted international entrepreneur parole based on the same start-up entity.
The applicant’s start-up entity must be:
- A corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or other entity that is organized under federal law or the laws of any state, and that conducts business in the United States;
- Not primarily engaged in the offer, purchase, sale or trading of securities, futures contracts, derivatives, or similar instruments;
- Formed within the 5 years immediately preceding the date the applicant filed the initial parole application and lawfully doing business during any period of operation since its date of formation; and
- An entity with substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
Qualified investment: An applicant can demonstrate the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation through a qualified investment if, within the 18 months immediately preceding the filing of the application, one or more qualified investors made qualified investments that together are at least the required amount. The required amount automatically adjusts every 3 years by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
Government grant: An applicant can demonstrate the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation through a qualified government award or grant. The applicant must show that, within the 18 months immediately preceding the filing of the application, the start-up entity received one or more qualified government awards or grants of at least the minimum required amount.
Partial evidence: If the applicant satisfies the criteria demonstrating that they are an entrepreneur in a start-up entity but only partially meets one or both of the criteria for qualified investments or qualified awards or grants, USCIS may still consider the applicant for entrepreneur parole if the applicant provides additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. When considered in totality, the evidence must serve as a compelling validation of the entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
Public benefit: there is no statutory or regulatory definition of significant public benefit. Parole determinations are case-by-case discretionary determinations that consider the totality of the circumstances of each case.
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