Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it is proposing a new rule, which would allow certain international entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. on a case-by-case basis, in order to start or grow their business. These entrepreneurs would be given parole – temporary permission to be in the U.S. – if they can show they will provide a significant public benefit. This action stems from President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Action, issued in November of 2014. The White House describes this administrative action as necessary “to ensure that our system encourages [foreign entrepreneur] to grow our economy.” The proposed rule would allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use its existing discretionary statutory parole authority for entrepreneurs who can show a benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation. Per the USCIS press release, the following criteria would be considered by DHS:

  • Entrepreneurs who have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 15%) and have an active and central role to its operations;
  • The startup was formed in the U.S. within the past 3 years; and
  • The startup has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creations 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.

The proposed rule would allow an initial stay of up to 2 years to entrepreneurs who meet the criteria. After that, a request for re-parole – for up to 3 additional years – would be considered only if the startup entity continue to provide a significant public benefit as evidenced by substantial increases in capital investment, revenue or job creation. Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45 days from that date to comment on the rule.