On August 31, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services proposed a rule requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant parole to eligible foreign entrepreneurs of startup enterprises. The rule was implemented following the strict immigration policies implemented by the US government offering only limited work permit visas to immigrant students after graduation. Between 1995 and 2005, non-US Immigrants founded more than 52% of renowned startups that include Google, YouTube, eBay, and PayPal. As of 2016, this had dropped to only 10%, seemingly a factor behind the stagnation of the US economy. The aim of the program is to increase business activity, boost employment opportunities, and stimulate the US economy.
The rise of Asian economies forces most skilled youngsters to seek attractive opportunities in their home countries or in other jurisdictions with more friendly entrepreneurial policies. Today, Silicon Valley has lost its position as the hub of innovation, talent, and new technologies to Singapore, Beijing, and Mumbai who have all positioned themselves as better investors. It is for this reason that the Department of Homeland Security implemented the USA Startup Visa Parole program effective from July 1, 2017. The program allows foreign entrepreneurs to live and work in the US under a parole regime provided they meet certain requirements of the program.
US Entrepreneurship Requirements
The Entrepreneurship parole program is not a permanent visa but a temporally permit to be granted at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security to potential foreign entrepreneurs to live and work in the US. The maximum period granted will be 5 years divided into an initial 30 months period and renewable for another 30 months if significant public benefits are recognized.
Any foreign entrepreneur wishing to apply for the USA Entrepreneurship Parole can do so through an immigration attorney. For the first 30 months period, they must:
- Own 10% or more participation in a startup, which was created and has been operating in the last five years;
- Demonstrate that their entrepreneurial skills, experience, and knowledge are indispensable for the growth and development of the operating entity;
- Have a household income 400% above the federal poverty line;
- Prove at the time of application, the startup had been funded through a qualified investment or government fund not less than $250,000 obtained eighteen months prior to the application.
One can apply for a re-parole of another 30 months provided they fulfill the conditions provided by the DHS. The individual applying for re-parole must maintain at least 5% of the shares and continue to play a key role in the entity. In addition, proof of growth must be provided showing a turnover of at least $500,000 with a 20% CAGR and the generation of five full-time jobs for American citizens. Through an immigration attorney, one can partially fulfill the requirements of re-parole provided they can produce convincing evidence of the company's potential growth. Should the entity cease operations or is no longer of significant public benefit, the DHS revokes the re-parole request with no room for appeal.
If you are working on a startup in the U.S. and think you may potentially qualify for a Startup Visa, it is important to seek help from an immigration lawyer. Based on your current situation, the immigration lawyer will help you fulfill the specific requirements laid out by the DHS as well as effectively represent your during the process of parole.