Comment Period Begins for International Entrepreneur Rule

The Department of Homeland Security published its proposed International Entrepreneur Rule in the Federal Register today, kicking off a 45-day public comment period.

Under the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would have the discretion to grant parole — or a temporary stay in the U.S. — to foreign entrepreneurs who create, oversee and rapidly grow a startup here. To receive parole, entrepreneurs would have to show their startup provides a significant public benefit by creating jobs, generating revenue and boosting the U.S. economy.

The Highlights & Benefits

To qualify for parole under the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule, foreign entrepreneurs would be required to:

  • Be a founder of the startup.
  • Have at least a 15% investment in the startup.
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of the startup.
  • Show the startup is a legal business entity that complies with U.S. business laws and regulations.
  • Show the startup has received at least: $345,000 from an angel investment or venture capital firm within the last year OR $100,000 in government grants.
  • Pay the parole application filing fee of $1,200.

Some of the benefits of the proposed rule include:

  • The spouses and children under 21 of the paroled foreign entrepreneur are also eligible for parole.
  • Paroled spouses are eligible for a work permit.
  • Founders who receive parole under IER would be allowed to work in the U.S. for up to five years. USCIS will initially grant parole for two years. A founder is eligible for a one-time, three-year extension as long as USCIS deems that the founder continues to meet the conditions of parole.

The Drawbacks

The International Entrepreneur Rule is not a panacea for foreign startup founders. It comes five years after Congress failed to pass an immigration reform package proposed by President Obama that would have created a startup visa. That reform package would have created a temporary visa for startup founders that converts to a permanent green card after a two-year period if certain conditions are met.

In that context, the rule as it’s currently written has a few drawbacks:

  • A maximum of three founders per startup may apply for parole.
  • A startup founder may meet all of the qualifications for parole, but USCIS could still deny parole to a founder, under its discretionary authority.
  • Founders who are denied parole have no recourse for appealing the decision.
  • USCIS has the authority to terminate parole at any time.
  • No direct path exists from parole to a green card. That means obtaining a green card will still require long-term planning and maneuvering. Foreign entrepreneurs will be required to leave the U.S. to apply for a green card at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in their home country, since parolees cannot obtain employment-based immigrant status inside the U.S.

Your Opinion Counts

I urge you to weigh in on the requirements, procedures, process and conditions in the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule. The public comment period ends on October 17, 2016. All comments should reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2015–0006 and should be submitted by one of the following:

  • The Federal eRulemaking Portal, which contains instructions for submitting comments.
  • Email to uscisfrcomment@dhs.gov with “DHS Docket No. USCIS-2015–0006” in the subject line.
  • Snail mail, hand deliver or courier a letter, disk or CD-ROM to:

Samantha Deshommes
Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division
Office of Policy and Strategy
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security
20 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20529

Phone: (202) 272–8377

Let me know your thoughts on the International Entrepreneur Rule in the comment section below. I may include them in my own comments to USCIS. For more information about the proposed rule, check out my short informational video on alcornimmigrationlaw.com or contact our office.