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On August 31, 2016 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published in the Federal Register a rule which would allow some international entrepreneurs to be considered for parole (temporary permission to be in the United States) so that they may start or scale their businesses in the United States.  U.S. companies and individuals that are looking to back new businesses or innovations started by foreign nationals will surely welcome this new rule as it eases some constraints related to immigration.Under this rule, DHS may parole, on a case-by-case basis, eligible entrepreneurs of startup enterprises. In brief, eligible entrepreneurs of startup enterprises are those:

  1. Who have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 15 percent) and have  an active and central role to its operations;
  2. Whose startup was formed in the United States within the past three years; and
  3. Whose startup has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation, as evidenced by:
  • Receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
  • Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
  • 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.

Under this rule, two separate periods of “parole,” would be created. Entrepreneurs may be granted an initial stay of up to two years to oversee and grow their startup entity in the United States. A subsequent request for re-parole (for up to three additional years) would be considered only if the entrepreneur and the startup entity meet certain requirements.  The second period of parole will require the applicant to demonstrate the entity continues to operate, has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation, the applicant continues to play an active and central role in the operations and growth of the entity, and continues to hold at least a 10% ownership interest.  In addition, applicants for re-parole must show that the startup:Sleepless movie trailer

  1. Received at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, qualified government grants or awards, or a combination of such funding, during the initial parole period;
  2. Created at least 10 qualified jobs with the start-up entity during the initial parole period; or
  3. Reached at least $500,000 in annual revenue and averaged 20 percent in annual revenue growth during the initial parole period; or
  4. Can provide other reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

DHS expects approximately 3,000 applications a year once the rule is finalized, although there is no cap on the number of applications the agency can approve.

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