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International Entrepreneur Rule Frozen for Now

BY IN Immigration, International Entrepreneur Rule On February 3, 2017

The Trump administration put a freeze on all new and pending regulations, including the International Entrepreneur Rule, the Obama Administration’s creative substitute for a startup visa.

Last week’s freeze was expected. Typically, new administrations taking over from the other party halt new and pending regulations to review them before they’re finalized.


Regulatory Process

Before taking effect, regulations are first published in the Federal Register with an effective date. A few days before President Obama left the White House, the International Entrepreneur Rule was published with an effective date of July 17, 2017.

Last month, the Trump Administration instructed all federal departments and agencies with regulations that have been published but have not reached their effective date to go through a 60-day review. A new notice for reopening the regulations could occur. That means the effective date of the International Entrepreneur Rule could be postponed by 60 days.

The administration also instructed all federal departments and agencies that have not yet sent a regulation to be published in the Federal Register to hold off doing so. Those regulations will be reviewed by someone selected by the president.


International Entrepreneur Rule

The International Entrepreneur Rule gives U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the discretion to grant parole—or a temporary stay in the U.S.—to qualifying immigrant entrepreneurs. Immigrant entrepreneurs must show they have created successful startups that have the potential for business growth, jobs and innovation.  

Under the current version of the rule, parole is extended to the spouse and children of paroled entrepreneurs. Spouses of paroled entrepreneurs are also eligible to apply for a work permit.


Qualifying for Parole

To qualify for parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule, entrepreneurs must:

  • Have at least a 10% ownership interest in a qualifying startup at the time of the first parole application.
  • Must be actively engaged in operating the startup.
  • Must maintain a household income of at least 400% of the federal poverty level. An individual must maintain an annual income of at least $47,520. A family of four would need at least $97,200.

A qualified startup must:

  • Have been created within the five years before applying for parole or within five years of receiving an investment or government grant.
  • Have received at least $250,000 in qualified investments or at least $100,000 in government awards or grants within the past 18 months.
  • Show growth and job creation potential if it does not fully meet the monetary requirement.

A qualified investment must be from:

  • A U.S. citizen, a permanent resident of the U.S., or a U.S. majority owned and operated entity, but cannot come from an immediate family member or an entity owned by a family member.
  • An investor that regularly invests in startups and must not have committed any securities violations.
  • An investor that has invested more than $600,000 in startups in the past five years.
  • An entity whose past investment in at least two startups must have yielded the creation of at least five full-time jobs for Americans or generated at least $500,000 in revenue and at least 20% average annual growth.


Renewing Parole

If USCIS grants parole, the entrepreneur may stay initially up to 30 months, and apply for a 30-month extension. For an extension, the entrepreneur must show the startup continues to provide a significant public benefit. A significant public benefit is shown by meeting any of the following:

  • Receiving at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, grants or award.
  • Creating at least five full-time jobs.
  • Generating at least $500,000 in annual revenue and 20% average annual growth.

An entrepreneur must maintain at least a 5% ownership interest in the startup for parole renewal. Parole will be terminated if the entrepreneur is no longer employed by the startup or no longer has an ownership interest.


Contact Us

The International Entrepreneur Rule faces an uncertain future under the Trump administration. We would be happy to help you find the best visa and green card options for yourself, your family or your colleagues. Contact us!


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Sophie Alcorn

Sophie Alcorn is a Stanford-educated, New York Times-featured expert on United States Immigration Law. She founded Alcorn Immigration Law, Silicon Valley's premier immigration and nationality law firm, in 2015. Sophie and her team obtain visas and green cards for highly-motivated individuals to build the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley, having successfully handled hundreds of immigration cases for investors, established and venture-backed corporations, founders, and families. Sophie hails from Orange County, where she was chosen as Top Attorney by Orange County Metro Magazine in 2012 at the age of 28. In 2015 Sophie joined the ranks of The National Advocates Top 40 under 40, a select group of young attorneys who demonstrate superior qualifications, leadership, influence, and stature. Sophie is a public speaker on immigration law who conveys the nuances of immigration law in a clear, understandable manner. She lives in Mountain View with her family.

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