The International Entrepreneur Rule is back and although it never really got off the ground in its first form, the USCIS is accepting applications again. The International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) utilizes the Department of Homeland Security’s authorization to grant parole to certain individuals, in this case foreign entrepreneurs who can demonstrate their stay in the United States will provide a significant public benefit through their business. The withdrawal of the Trump Administration’s attempts to remove the rule form part of the Biden Administration’s Executive Order 14012 “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.”
Generally speaking, the rule provides U.S. work authorization for entrepreneurs who have secured certain thresholds of financing for their start up from established investors (angel investors etc.) or awards/grants. The entrepreneur should have a key role in the business, but does not have to be the majority owner. There is no path to a green card associated with parole, however other employer-based sponsorship options exist for an IER parolee. The IER is also critically different to other investor-based visas (E-2 etc.) as the entrepreneur does not have to invest their own money in the business.
What about non-profits and the International Entrepreneur Rule?
The broad evidence requirements under the IER means there is a path for nonprofits to absolutely quality under the IER. The USCIS has confirmed in engagements that the IER will be broadly interpreted, and accordingly nonprofit or other entities could qualify should they meet the job creation and public benefit requirements.
What else do I need to know?
Other key considerations of the IER: Parole can be applied for by individuals in the US or abroad. Travel authorization will be provided to foreign applicants to allow them to enter the U.S. Parole is granted in 30-month increments. Entrepreneurs granted parole will be eligible to work only for their start-up business. The spouses and children of the foreign entrepreneur may also be eligible for parole. While spouses may apply for work authorization once present in the United States as parolees, their children are not eligible for work authorization. IER parole may be granted for up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity.
What do I need to show?
Entrepreneurs applying for parole under this rule must demonstrate that they:
- Possess a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity created within the past five years in the United States that has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- Have a central and active role in the start-up entity such that they are well-positioned to substantially assist with the growth and success of the business.
- Will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on their role as an entrepreneur of the start-up entity by showing that:
- The start-up entity has received a significant investment of capital from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments ($250,000+);
- The start-up entity has received significant awards or grants for economic development, research and development, or job creation (or other types of grants or awards typically given to start-up entities) from federal, state, or local government entities that regularly provide such awards or grants to start-up entities ($100,000+); or
- They partially meet either or both of the previous two requirements and provide additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- Or there is other compelling evidence that would merit a favorable exercise of discretion.
How can I extend my International Entrepreneur Parole?
A 30 month extension of the parole may be applied for provided the following is demonstrated:
- The business continues to operate;
- The entrepreneur has at least a 5% ownership and continues to have a central and active role in the start-up entity;
- The business has reached certain milestones:
- Received at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, qualified government grants or awards, or a combination of such funding, during the initial parole period;
- Created at least 5 qualified jobs with the start-up entity during the initial parole period;
- Reached at least $500,000 in annual revenue in the United States and averaged 20% in annual revenue growth during the initial parole period.
Tully Rinckey is able to assist people and organizations world-wide with domestic and international immigration matters. Attorney Michael Freestone is well versed in representing large corporations and is able to navigate complex immigration issues and analyze the facts and recommend the best course of action.