USCIS Proposes Rule to Welcome International Entrepreneurs

by Jacki Granet

The United States has long been the land of opportunity and that has been particularly true for the world’s brightest business minds. Indeed, studies show that “more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.” Entrepreneurs may not fit easily in nonimmigrant visa categories, but there may be a better option soon. Last week, US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new  International Entrepreneur Rule, “which would allow certain international entrepreneurs to be considered for parole (temporary permission to be in the United States)” in order to start or scale a business in the US. The rule has been sent to the Federal Register, and once posted, the public will have forty-five days to submit comments. “America’s economy has long benefited from the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs, from Main Street to Silicon Valley,” USCIS Director León Rodríguez says in the announcement. “This proposed rule, when finalized, will help our economy grow by expanding immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment and generating revenue in the U.S.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), pursuant to Section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5), has the authority to parole individuals in the United States “on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” In its new rule, USCIS proposes to “amend its regulations implementing this authority to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States.” The proposed International Entrepreneur Rule would grant parole to entrepreneurs with “startup entities whose stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation.” The parole would first be granted for a period of two years and a subsequent re-parole may be granted for an additional three years, only if “the entrepreneur and the startup entity continue to provide a significant public benefit as evidenced by substantial increases in capital investment, revenue or job creation.”  Eligible entrepreneurs include those:

  • Who have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least fifteen percent) and have an active and central role to its operations;
  • Whose startup was formed in the United States within the past three years; and
  • Whose startup has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation, as evidenced by:
  1. Receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from certain qualified US investors with established records of successful investments;
  2. Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
  3. 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.

While he may be leaving office soon, President Obama has long been an advocate for bringing entrepreneurs around the world to the US. In 2012, he launched Entrepreneur Pathways, a website aimed at assisting immigrant entrepreneurs in their goal of building new businesses in the US. This new International Entrepreneurs Rule would continue President Obama’s mission in bringing the best and brightest to the US and creating new jobs for Americans.