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Entrepreneur Parole Program

On December 14, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would start accepting applications for parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). This grant of parole is commonly referred to as Entrepreneur Parole. However, it is important to bear in mind that the program may be short-lived. DHS must comply with the APA’s notice and comment requirements prior to rescinding the rule, a process which is likely to take at least a few months to complete after the rescission rule is published. Parole could be revoked if the IER is rescinded, and weigh the benefit of being able to work in the United States against this “worst case scenario.”

Requirements

The applicant-entrepreneur to demonstrate:

  • The entrepreneur holds at least a 10% ownership stake in the start-up entity.
  • The entrepreneur holds a central and active role in the operations of the start-up.
  • The entrepreneur’s knowledge, skills, or experience will substantially assist with the growth and success of the start-up.
  • The start-up’s formation occurred in the last five years.
  • The start-up will have a significant public benefit.
  • The start-up received substantial capital investment or awards as follows: o Within the last 18 months, received an aggregate of $100,000 in government grants or $250,000 from qualified investors.
  • A qualified investor must have a significant track record of successful investments in other start-ups ($600,000 in the last five years. Those investments must have resulted in two start-ups creating five full-time3 qualified jobs4 each, not including independent contractors, or $500,000. Full time employment requires at least 35 working hours per week. These positions must be paid positions. The investor must also be an individual holding U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence, or be an entity majority owned and controlled, directly or indirectly, by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

An entrepreneur granted parole is able to work in the United States for the start-up incident to her or his parole. The entrepreneur is also obligated to report any material changes regarding the start-up or the entrepreneur’s role with the start-up during the parole period.

Canadians may take these documents directly to the U.S.-Canada border to be paroled into the U.S. All others will be required to obtain travel documentation (such as a boarding foil) at a U.S. consulate. The entrepreneur would then travel to the United States and request parole when appearing before U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the port of entry. Work Authorization. Entrepreneurs granted parole through this program can receive up to five years of work authorization, in two 30-month increments.

Spouses and Minor Children. Spouses and children may accompany the entrepreneur by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. USCIS has reportedly updated Form I-131 for dependents of entrepreneurs, but has not yet released the revised form as of the time of this practice pointer. Spouses will be able to apply for work authorization after receiving parole by filing an I-765 under the “(c)(34)” category.

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