On January 17, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finalized the International Entrepreneur Rule. This rule was proposed last summer by the Obama Administration, after Congress failed to pass any meaningful immigration reform. The new rule will allow certain international entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. on a case-by-case basis, in order to start or grow their business. The rule allows USCIS to provide entrepreneurs a “parole” – or temporary stay – status if they can show their business would “provide a significant public benefit to the United States.” Eligible entrepreneurs who are granted this parole, will be able to stay in the U.S. for up to 30 months, with the possibility to extend this period by up to an additional 30 months if certain criteria is met. The rule would allow up to three entrepreneurs per entity, as well as spouses and children, to stay. The rule will take effect on July 17, 2017.
After receiving public input, the USCIS relaxed or reduced several provisions from the initial proposed rule to the final rule. The proposed rule would have required an investment of at least $345,000 from qualified U.S. investors to apply for parole. USCIS has reduced the minimum investment requirement to $250,000. The final rule also gives entrepreneurs more time to land funding — 18 months instead of 12 months. Also, in the proposed rule, the founder of the startup business had to possess 15% of ownership stake, but in the final rule that was reduced to 10%. In the proposed rule, a startup had to generate at least ten jobs during the initial parole period to qualify for an extension. That number has been reduced to five jobs in the final rule. The agency stated, “this final rule will encourage foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the United States, which are expected to facilitate research and development in the country, create jobs for U.S. workers, and otherwise benefit the U.S. economy through business activity, innovation, and dynamism.”