** LEGAL UPDATE **
Implementing a 2014 Executive Order by President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has amended its discretionary authority over an immigration benefit known as “parole.” The intent is to deal with a lack of opportunities within the U.S. immigration system for would-be entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the United States.
The primary opportunities for entering the U.S. as an entrepreneur were, until now, based on either having a job offer with an existing employer, having a lot of money to invest, or qualifying to self-petition for a green card based on a “national interest waiver” (NIW).
None of these is a perfect match for someone wishing to create a startup company without personally investing huge amounts of cash. But it’s in the United States’s interest to attract innovation, foster job creation, and reap the benefits of foreign students’ recently gained expertise.
The new rule, which will go into effect July 17, 2017, allows DHS to grant parole on a case-by-case basis to entrepreneurs of startup entities if doing so would provide a significant public benefit by way of potential for rapid business growth and job creation. (See the 1/17/2017 issue of the Federal Register for the full rule.)
Parole is not as beneficial as a green card, a visa, or a permanent right to remain in the United States. Only Congress can grant the latter such rights. It simply means that the person is allowed to live in the U.S. for a time, in this case while working for their startup entity. Parole granted under this rule will provide only a temporary U.S. stay of up to 30 months, plus a possible extension of up to 30 months.
Up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity may apply for this form of parole.
Spouses and children can apply to accompany the primary parole grantee. Spouses may also apply for work authorization in the United States, but children may not.
With any luck, the foothold gained by the entrepreneur(s) will create a basis upon which to apply for a green card or a long-term temporary visa, if desired, during or toward the end of the parole period.
To apply for parole as an entrepreneur, you will need to demonstrate that:
No doubt USCIS will issue more information on application procedures as the effective date approaches.