On Dec 14th, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it is taking steps to implement the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), in accordance with a recent court decision.
Although the IER was published during the previous administration with an effective date of July 17, 2017, it did not take effect because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule on July 11, 2017, delaying the IER’s effective date until March 14, 2018. This delay rule was meant to give USCIS time to review the IER and, if necessary, to issue a rule proposing to remove the IER program regulations.
However, a Dec. 1, 2017, ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in National Venture Capital Association v. Duke vacated USCIS’ final rule to delay the effective date. The Dec. 1, 2017, court decision is a result of litigation filed in district court on Sept. 19, 2017, which challenged the delay rule.
The IER is an important opportunity for foreign nationals as well as for the US economy as it grants “PAROLE” to certain foreign national entrepreneurs and it opens a window for certain businesspersons to come to (or remain in) the U.S. For more information about the IER, please see the new section added to 8 CFR 212.19 which provides guidance with respect to the use of “parole for entrepreneurs of start-up entities based upon significant public benefit”.
The IER was published during the previous administration to provide an unlimited number of international entrepreneurs a new avenue to apply for parole, enter the U.S., and use American investments to establish and grow start-up businesses. Parole is a discretionary grant made by the Secretary of Homeland Security and is granted only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. The rule established new criteria to guide the adjudication of parole applications from certain foreign entrepreneurs, providing them with temporary permission to come to the country. The rule did not afford a path to citizenship, which only Congress can do.
On Jan. 25, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, which requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure that parole authority is exercised only on a case-by-case basis, and only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit due to the parole.
International Entrepreneur Program Eligibility
Entrepreneurs applying for parole under this rule must demonstrate that they:
- Possess a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity created within the past five years in the United States that has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- Have a central and active role in the start-up entity such that they are well-positioned to substantially assist with the growth and success of the business.
- Will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on their role as an entrepreneur of the start-up entity by showing that:
- The start-up entity has received a significant investment of capital from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
- The start-up entity has received significant awards or grants for economic development, research and development, or job creation (or other types of grants or awards typically given to start-up entities) from federal, state, or local government entities that regularly provide such awards or grants to start-up entities; or
- They partially meet either or both of the previous two requirements and provide additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- Otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion.
A spouse or child of an entreprene