USCIS Proposes Rule to Grant Parole to Entrepreneurs
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently proposed a new rule that will allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use its existing discretionary parole authority for entrepreneurs of new start-up companies whose continued presence in the United States would provide a significant public benefit. The proposal would allow USCIS to grant parole (temporary admission into the United States) on a case-by-case basis to those foreign entrepreneurs who have a significant ownership interest (15 percent or more) in a start-up and who have an active and central role in its operations. (Mere investors are specifically excluded.) The new start-up would have to demonstrate a significant public benefit and the potential for rapid business growth and job creation.
In addition, to qualify an applicant must also demonstrate that the entity was formed in the United States within the past three years and is:
receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments. (Investments made by a parent, spouse, brother, sister, son, or daughter of the entrepreneur are excluded, as are investments by any entity in which the entrepreneur or the entrepreneur’s relatives hold any direct or indirect ownership interest); or
receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from a federal, state, or local government entity that regularly provides such awards or grants to start-up entities (not contracts for goods or services); or
partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria in addition to other reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
Entrepreneurs who are approved may be granted an initial stay of up to two years to oversee and grow their start-up entity in the United States. Spouses and unmarried minor children may be paroled for up to two years as well. Other requirements include:
Entrepreneurs may only work for the start-up entity in the U.S., but may begin work immediately upon entering the U.S., using their passport and I-94 reflecting parole status as evidence of employment authorization;
Spouses can apply for work authorization after admission in parole status prior to commencing work;
A maximum of three parolee-entrepreneurs per qualifying entity is permitted;
Following admission, the parolee must maintain household income that is greater than 400 percent of the federal poverty line.
USCIS would consider negative factors that may exist to determine whether the totality of circumstances indicate that parole would provide a significant public benefit and that the applicant merits a grant of parole as a matter of discretion. Such status is revocable if DHS determines the parole no longer provides a significant public benefit, e.g., ceased operations in the U.S. A three-year “re-parole” is possible as long as other conditions are meet.
The proposed rule is now going through the regular notice-and-comment process; the final rule is not expected for some months.
USCIS Clarifies 120-Day Time Period for EAD Renewals
USCIS has a policy that renewals for EADs (employment authorization documents) should not be filed earlier than 120 days before the expiration of the current EAD. However, USCIS has confirmed that the 120-day limit is not an absolute cut-off date. Applicants can file sooner in certain circumstances, it said, giving the example where a family seeks to file EAD renewal applications together even though the filing would be earlier than the 120-day limit for some family members. USCIS advises, however, that the starting validity date will be the date of adjudication, so filing early could result in a renewal EAD being issued earlier than when it is needed, and thus ending earlier than desired.
Passport Photos No Longer Required for Naturalization Applications
USCIS has revised its rules for filing N-400 naturalization applications, stating that applicants no longer need to submit two passport-style photographs with their applications. Fingerprints, photographs, and signature will be taken at scheduled biometric service appointments. Biometrics will now be required regardless of age. On a related note, naturalization applicants are reminded that during the pendency of their case, they are required to file a Form I-90 to renew their permanent resident card if it is expiring.
Dilip Patel of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 222-1120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org