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USCIS Proposes New Rule - International Startups Get Ready!

We welcome today’s announcement by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which released the “International Entrepreneur Rule”. This is a proposal of a new rule which will allow certain international entrepreneurs to be considered for temporary permission to enter the United States (parole). This proposed rule has significant implications, not only for the thousands of potential entrepreneurs who may not ordinarily consider investing in the United States, particularly if unable to obtain a visa in the first place, but for our economy. USCIS acknowledged the benefits America has enjoyed in today’s proposal. “America’s economy has long benefited from the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs, from Main Street to Silicon Valley,” said Director León Rodríguez. “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 proposed rule would allow entrepreneurs to apply for entry to the United States and an initial stay of up to two years to oversee and grow their startup entity. A request for re-parole (up to 3 additional years) would be considered if the entrepreneur and the startup entity continues to establish a significant public benefit, which can be demonstrated through substantial increases in capital investment, revenue, or job creation. The Department of Homeland Security would review the applications on a case-by-case basis, but generally the eligible entrepreneurs of startup enterprises should have:
1)      Significant (at least 15%) ownership interest in the startup and have an active and central role to its operations;
2)      A recent startup (formed in the U.S. within the past 3 years);
3)      A startup that has demonstrated substantial potential for rapid business grown and job creation. This can be evidenced by the following
a.      Receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
b.      Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
c.       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.
This would not be the only way an entrepreneur could try and obtain, through their investment in the U.S. economy, an immigration benefit. Some may be familiar with one such program: EB-5 Investor Visa. The Eb-5 visa is discussed in more detail HERE however this proposed rule does not replace the Eb-5 program, which requires an investment of $1 million (in certain cases as low as $500,000) in exchange for lawful permanent residency for the foreign investor and his/her family. Contrasted with the rule proposed today, the EB-5 visa requires a more significant financial investment and the conditions are stringent and particular and will potentially take more time to adjudicate, however significantly the Eb-5 visa offers a benefit that cannot be compared: permanent residency.
This program would be perfect for the startup that is serious about investing in the U.S. and wants the ability to personally oversee their startup but is not yet ready or interested in permanent residency, or at least not right away.

There will be a 45 day commentary period following the publication in the Federal Register. We will post an update on this blog with more information as it develops and we urge the public to comment in support of the proposed International Entrepreneur Rule when released. We have witnessed our world grow increasingly smaller with advancements in science and technology in the past few decades. Forward-thinking immigration rules such as the one proposed can only position the U.S. for all kinds of growth in an ever-shrinking world.  

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