International Entrepreneur Rule (IER)
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS
This final rule amends Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations to implement the Secretary of Homeland Security's discretionary parole authority in order to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States. The final rule adds new regulatory provisions guiding the use of parole on a case-by-case basis with respect to entrepreneurs of start-up entities who can demonstrate through evidence of substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States. Such potential would be indicated by, among other things, the receipt of significant capital investment from U.S. investors with established records of successful investments, or obtaining significant awards or grants from certain Federal, State or local government entities. If granted, parole would provide a temporary initial stay of up to 30 months (which may be extended by up to an additional 30 months) to facilitate the applicant's ability to oversee and grow his or her start-up entity in the United States.
Purpose of the Regulatory Action
Section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5), confers upon the Secretary of Homeland Security the discretionary authority to parole individuals into the United States temporarily, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. DHS is amending its regulations implementing this authority to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States. As described in more detail below, the final rule would establish general criteria for the use of parole with respect to entrepreneurs of start-up entities who can demonstrate through evidence of substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid growth and job creation that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States. In all cases, whether to parole a particular individual under this rule is a discretionary determination that would be made on a case-by-case basis.
Given the complexities involved in adjudicating applications in this context, DHS has decided to establish by regulation the criteria for the case-by-case evaluation of parole applications filed by entrepreneurs of start-up entities. By including such criteria in regulation, as well as establishing application requirements that are specifically tailored to capture the necessary information for processing parole requests on this basis, DHS expects to facilitate the use of parole in this area.
Under this final rule, an applicant would need to demonstrate that his or her parole would provide a significant public benefit because he or she is the entrepreneur of a new start-up entity in the United States that has significant potential for rapid growth and job creation. DHS believes that such potential would be indicated by, among other things, the receipt of (1) significant capital investment from U.S. investors with established records of successful investments or (2) significant awards or grants from certain Federal, State, or local government entities. The final rule also includes alternative criteria for applicants who partially meet the thresholds for capital investment or government awards or grants and can provide additional reliable and compelling evidence of their entities' significant potential for rapid growth and job creation.
An applicant must also show that he or she has a substantial ownership interest in such an entity, has an active and central role in the entity's operations, and would substantially further the entity's ability to engage in research and development or otherwise conduct and grow its business in the United States. The grant of parole is intended to facilitate the applicant's ability to oversee and grow the start-up entity.
DHS believes that 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 increased business activity, innovation, and dynamism. Particularly in light of the complex considerations involved in entrepreneur-based parole requests, DHS also believes that this final rule will provide a transparent framework by which DHS will exercise its discretion to adjudicate such requests on a case-by-case basis under section 212(d)(5) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5).
Summary of the Final Rule Provisions
This final rule adds a new section 8 CFR 212.19 to provide guidance with respect to the use of parole for entrepreneurs of start-up entities based upon significant public benefit. An individual seeking to operate and grow his or her start-up entity in the United States would generally need to demonstrate the following to be considered for a discretionary grant of parole under this final rule:
- Formation of New Start-Up Entity.The applicant has recently formed a new entity in the United States that has lawfully done business since its creation and has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. An entity may be considered recently formed if it was created within the 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing of the initial parole application. See 8 CFR 219.12(a)(2), 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7).
- Applicant is an Entrepreneur.The applicant is an entrepreneur of the start-up entity who is well-positioned to advance the entity's business. An applicant may meet this standard by providing evidence that he or she: (1) Possesses a significant (at least 10 percent) ownership interest in the entity at the time of adjudication of the initial grant of parole; and (2) has an active and central role in the operations and future growth of the entity, such that his or her knowledge, skills, or experience would substantially assist the entity in conducting and growing its business in the United States. See final 8 CFR 212.19(a)(1). Such an applicant cannot be a mere investor.
- Significant U.S. Capital Investment or Government Funding.The applicant can further validate, through reliable supporting evidence, the entity's substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. An applicant may be able to satisfy this criterion in one of several ways:
Investments from established U.S. investors.The applicant may show that the entity has received significant investment of capital from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments. An applicant would generally be able to meet this standard by demonstrating that the start-up entity has received investments of capital totaling $250,000 or more from established U.S. investors (such as venture capital firms, angel investors, or start-up accelerators) with a history of substantial investment in successful start-up entities.
Government grants.The applicant may show that the start-up entity has received significant awards or grants from Federal, State or local government entities with expertise in economic development, research and development, or job creation. An applicant would generally be able to meet this standard by demonstrating that the start-up entity has received monetary awards or grants totaling $100,000 or more from government entities that typically provide such funding to U.S. businesses for economic, research and development, or job creation purposes.
Alternative criteria.The final rule provides alternative criteria under which an applicant who partially meets one or more of the above criteria related to capital investment or government funding may be considered for parole under this rule if he or she provides additional reliable and compelling evidence that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States. Such evidence must serve as a compelling validation of the entity's substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
This final rule states that an applicant who meets the above criteria (and his or her spouse and minor, unmarried children, if any) generally may be considered under this rule for a discretionary grant of parole lasting up to 30 months (2.5 years) based on the significant public benefit that would be provided by the applicant's (or family's) parole into the United States.
- The applicant must have established a U.S. start-up business within five years before the application for parole;
- The applicant must hold an ownership interest in the startup of at least 10 percent;
- The applicant must play an active and central role in the operations of the business, and not merely be an investor; and
- The start-up must have received a capital investment of at least $250,000 from qualified US investors or at least $100,000 in grants or awards from qualifying US federal, state or local government entities. Foreign nationals who only partially satisfy the funding criteria would need to provide additional compelling evidence of the start-up’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
The final rule amends 8 CFR 274a.12(c) by extending eligibility for employment authorization to the spouse of an entrepreneur paroled into the United States under 8 CFR 212.19. The final rule amends 8 CFR 274a.2(b) by designating the entrepreneur's foreign passport and Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) indicating entrepreneur parole as acceptable evidence for employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) purposes. The final rule also amends 8 CFR 103.7(b)(i) by including the fee for the new Application for Entrepreneur Parole form.