New Immigration Opportunities for Entrepreneurs
Author: New York Business Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova
Good news: new regulations are being implemented for entrepreneurs and owners of successful start-ups. USCIS announced plans to allow business owners to be paroled into the United States in connection with their business activities. As always, the beneficiaries have to meet certain requirements and comply with certain restrictions. One may find the text of the new proposed rules here: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Articles/FR_2016-20663_793250_OFR.pdf.
First, the proposed rules will provide a parole, not a visa. A parole is a permission to come, stay and work, but it does not in itself give a right to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. The qualifying beneficiaries have to be owners with at least 15% interest share, and the start ups should be new enterprises (opened within the past 3 years), and the enterprises must be “ promising” in that they can create a substantial revenue or jobs.
Second, as always, the amount of money that a business should hold is quite substantial: $345K from qualifying U.S. investors (such as venture capital firms, angel investors, or start-up accelerators), or at least $100K coming from grants.
In addition, an enterprise has to demonstrate a potential for reliable growth, job creation and overall be in the U.S. national interests.
How would this work? Basically, a business person who actively participates in the development of the business will be allowed to come and stay in the US on a parole to oversee the development of the startup. (In most instances it means that a company also will be able to sponsor the person for permanent residency). Once the 2 years are over, the beneficiary may apply to be re-paroled for an additional 3 years. (DHS proposes that an applicant would generally be expected to demonstrate that the entity received at least $500,000 in additional qualifying funding during the initial parole period. A). The proposed rule will allow the entrepreneur’s spouse and children to apply for employment authorization.
The new proposed parole program may open the door to many entrepreneurs by allowing them to come to the US easier and avoid L1A/B requirements. It also is different from current non-immigrant visa regulations as it eliminates the need of an investment treaty between the country of origin and the US. It sets defined criteria for the amount of capital that the startup should attract to be considered successful.