Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

New International Entrepreneur Rule Finalized by DHS

Starting July 17, 2017, a new immigration program to the United States will be available for international entrepreneurs that meet certain qualifications. The program is geared toward allowing startup founders to temporarily reside and work in the US in order to manage rapidly growing startup businesses. It is aptly called the International Entrepreneur Rule.

One of the major purposes behind the new International Entrepreneur Rule is to provide temporary immigration relief for international entrepreneurs whose immigration into the country would provide for a public benefit to the US, such as through US job creation. Basically, this provides an avenue for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to start their businesses in the US.

Specific Rules for Case by Case Determinations

While these new rules have been in the works for some time now, the US Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has just finalized the rules that will go into effect on July 17, 2017. While there are rather specific requirements to qualify, in the end, it is a discretionary matter. Which means that even if an applicant does qualify, they are not guaranteed approval.

The following general requirements must be met to qualify:

  • An applicant must be more than just an investor. They must have a central and active role in running the business.
  • Business must be less than 5 years old, and have potential for rapid growth.
  • Applicants must have at least 10% ownership interest.
  • Business must have attracted $250,000 from qualified investors that are not related to the applicant, or have received $100,000 from a government grant.

If an applicant can establish that they meet the above qualifications, then an initial 30 month parole period may be provided.

Before the first 30 months expires, an applicant can apply for a second parole period, also of 30 months. However, to qualify for the second parole period, the applicant must show that the business is succeeding in creating a positive public benefit. This can be done by showing increased investments, job creation, or through some other mechanism.

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