Proposed Startup Program Could Provide Relief for Immigrant Entrepreneurs


On August 26th, USCIS published a proposed rule for qualifying foreign entrepreneurs seeking to continue working in the U.S. Up to three co-founders of a company could apply for a “Parole” status, in what could be a groundbreaking new option for foreign entrepreneurs.

August 30, 2016

The proposed rule would allow qualifying foreign entrepreneurs who own at least 15% stake of and have an active role in a startup company to obtain a two-year “Parole” status. The applicant’s company also must have already received at least $345,000 in investment from a qualified U.S. enterprise (i.e. venture capital firm, angel investment firm, etc.) or have received $100,000 in government funding.

One of the convenient features of this proposal is that as soon as an applicant’s petition was granted approval, the applicant would enjoy work authorization “incident to status,” meaning that they do not need to apply for a separate employment card, but may only work at their startup.

The rule permits businesses to have up to three years renewal on this parole if the business can meet the following requirements:

  1. The business has remained active during the parole period;
  2. It continues to display potential for growth and job creation;
  3. The entrepreneur still owns at least 10% stake in the company;
  4. The entrepreneur remains active in the operations of the company;
  5. The company has received significant investment;
  6. The company has annual revenue of at least $500k / year; and
  7. The company has created at least 10 full-time jobs within itself.

Family members of the applicant may be eligible for the “Parole” status, while spouses may be able to apply for employment cards.

The introduction of a “Parole” status would be a huge boon to foreign students currently in the U.S. with hopes of starting an entrepreneurship. We will have to wait some time for a clear set of requirements, as the government will need to siphon through likely thousands of comments on the proposal.

Source: Suzen Cohen - National Law Review