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August 29, 2016

On August 26, 201 USCIS released proposed regulations that will grant temporary status or "parole" to certain to certain foreign investors, researchers and entrepreneurs of startup entities. Under the program, a qualifying entrepreneur may receive parole for a two-year period to oversee and grow their startup, and may be eligible for renewal based upon the success of the start-up.

The entrepreneur parole program was first announced in November 2014 as part of President Obama’s planned executive actions to encourage innovation and support U.S. high-skill businesses and workers. Once the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45 days from the date of publication to comment.

Under the proposed rule the Department of Homeland Security will grant parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible applicants who can show a capital investment of minimum $345,000 from US investors with established records of successful investments or receive $100,000+ in awards or grant funding from federal, state or local economic development agencies. Partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria is  possible if compelling evidence can be provided that the approval would provide a significant public benefit. Start-ups must be less than three years old when the initial parole application is filed.

Additionally, in order to qualify under the proposed rule, applicants would be required to own 15% in the start-up and have an “active and central role” in the business and is “well-positioned…to assist the entity with growth.”

The entrepreneurs will be authorized to work “incident to status” without having to apply for employment authorization. Employment is only authorized at the start-up company that is the subject of the application. Entrepreneurs' dependents (spouses and minor children) can also qualify for parole status. Spouses are entitled to work, however they will have to apply for an employment authorization document.

Applicants will have to maintain a household income that is greater than 400% of the Federal Poverty Line for his/her household (i.e. a family of three will have to show an income of $80,360). The 2016 income requirement for a single person is $47,080. The applicant and his/her spouse may combine their income to meet the requirement.

Applications can be filed either from inside the US or outside the country. Applicants will have to file Form I-941, which will be created by USCIS. The proposed filing fee is $1,200 plus $85 biometrics fee. This is a discretionary benefit and USCIS will not allow an appeal or motion to reopen to be filed.

Applicants will be grated a parole for 2 years, with one extension of up to 3 years (5 years total), if they can demonstrate:

  • "significant growth" since the initial grant of stay;

  • additional funding of at least $500,000;

  • $500,000 per year in annual revenue and an annual growth of at least 20%, or

  • the ability to create ten or more full time jobs for US workers.

A maximum of three founders per start-up will be eligible for parole.

The new program may be an ideal immigration solution for new and growing tech companies who would like to bring on a talented foreign national who was not selected in the H-1B lottery, or for foreign students who would like to pursue their innovative business ideas in the U.S. but don’t have the personal capital to self-fund a traditional investor’s visa.

If you or your business is interested in learning more about this new program, don’t hesitate to contact Charlotte Immigration Law Firm today!



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