Nonimmigrant or Parole Pathways for Entrepreneur Employment in the United States
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Temporary pathways offer opportunities to start and manage a business in the United States for a specified time. They do not provide lawful permanent residence, although some people who come to the United States on nonimmigrant visas or parole subsequently transition to permanent resident pathways and eventually U.S. citizenship. Some of these pathways also permit you to bring your spouse and children under the age of 21 with you to the United States.
International Entrepreneur Rule
Under the International Entrepreneur Rule, DHS may use its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to noncitizen entrepreneurs who demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through their business venture and that they merit a favorable exercise of discretion. (This period of authorized stay is technically called “parole.”)
What level of ownership and role in the start-up entity is required?
You must have substantial ownership (which USCIS considers to be at least 10% at the time of initial application adjudication) in the start-up business and have a central and active role in its operations.
What are the requirements for the start-up entity?
The start-up must be a U.S. business entity that was lawfully conducting business in the United States and was formed within the five years immediately preceding the application for initial parole. It must also have substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
What type and level of funding are required to demonstrate that the start-up entity has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation?
You must be able to document that, within the past 18 months, the entity received the following funding:
A qualified investment of at least the required amount from a qualifying investor (currently $264,147);
A qualified award or grant of at least the required amount from a U.S. federal, state, or local government entity (currently $105,659); or
Alternatively, if the start-up entity partially meets one or both of the above funding levels, you may submit additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
While you are not precluded from personally investing in the start-up entity or securing additional funding, only qualified investments from a qualifying investor count towards the minimum investment amount.
A qualified investor:
Is an individual who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, or an organization that is located in the United States and operates through a legal entity organized under the laws of the United States or any state, that is majority owned and controlled, directly and indirectly, by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States;
Regularly makes substantial investments in start-up entities that subsequently exhibit significant growth in terms of revenue generation or job creation; and
During the preceding five years:
Made investments in start-up entities in exchange for equity, convertible debt, or other security convertible into equity commonly used in financing transactions within their respective industries comprising a total in such five-year period of no less than a certain investment amount (currently $633,952); and
Subsequent to such investment by such individual or organization, at least two such entities each created at least five qualified jobs or generated revenue of at least a certain amount (currently $528,293), with average annualized revenue growth of at least 20 percent.
A qualified investor is not:
You or any of your immediate relatives;
An organization in which you or your immediate relatives have a direct or indirect ownership interest;
Permanently or temporarily enjoined from participating in the offer or sale of a security or the provision of services as an investment adviser, broker, dealer, municipal securities dealer, government securities broker, government securities dealer, bank, transfer agent or credit rating agency;
Barred from association with any entity involved in the offer or sale of securities or provision of such services; or
Otherwise found to have participated in the offer or sale of securities or provision of such services in violation of the law.
A qualified investment means a purchase from a start-up entity of its equity, convertible debt, or another security convertible into its equity commonly used in financing transactions within such an entity’s industry.
Can my spouse and children accompany me to the United States?
The spouse and children of an applicant for parole can also apply for parole by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
Can my spouse work in the United States?
After being paroled into the United States under the International Entrepreneur Rule, spouses of noncitizens may apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Under the International Entrepreneur Rule, what is the maximum time I may remain in the United States?
You may be granted an initial period of stay for up to two-and-a-half years. If approved for re-parole, you may receive up to another two-and-a-half years, for a maximum of five years.
Can I apply from outside the United States?
Yes, as long as you and the start-up entity meet all of the criteria for consideration. If you are an applicant residing outside the United States and seeking an initial period of authorized stay under the International Entrepreneur Rule, you must submit biometrics. We will send you a notice explaining where to submit biometrics after we coordinate with the Department of State (DOS) or the International USCIS field office closest to you.
Can I change to an immigrant or nonimmigrant status?
At any time during the period of authorized stay, you may apply for classification as an immigrant or nonimmigrant if you are eligible. However, as parole is not admission, you would generally be ineligible for adjustment or change of status. You would be required to depart the United States to apply for admission as an immigrant or nonimmigrant, as applicable.
Can I apply if I am in nonimmigrant status, such as B-1 or F-1? Can I apply if I have overstayed the term of my nonimmigrant status but I believe I fulfill the other criteria?
If you are currently in the United States in nonimmigrant status, you can apply, but you would have to depart the United States to be paroled back in if authorized. If you are not presently maintaining nonimmigrant status, you may also apply, but you would have to depart the United States to be paroled back in if authorized. However, a failure to maintain your nonimmigrant status may result in immigration consequences, including but not limited to the removal, inadmissibility, and being barred from adjustment of status in some categories.