After a really, REALLY long time (see the date included in the original question to remind yourself), the US government have finally settled on a new rule.
An alternative to the proposed EB-6 Startup Visa was finalised on 17 January, 2017.
It is called the International Entrepreneurs Rule and it will (barring any changes to the rule by the new administration- which, given the last 100 days, are not totally out of the realm of possibility) come into force on July 17, 2017.
The International Entrepreneurs Rule is basically an additional category of application for ‘parole status’ under the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Parole status grants the applicant permission to stay in the US for an initial period of 30 months (2.5 years) with the potential to extend for another 30 months.
The idea being that at the end of the 5 year period, the business will have grown to the extent that you will fall under a different class of visas.
Until now, parole status was granted in two instances: for humanitarian reasons or for instances of significant public benefit. From July, the USCIS will also consider applications that will increase entrepreneurship, innovation and jobs.
As you would expect, there are some pretty specific criteria for the people/businesses that can apply.
For instance, the new rule specifically eliminates small businesses intended to generate money for the owners and their families (because of the public benefit requirement).
Here are the most pertinent ones:
The business must:
- Have been created within 5 years of the application date
- Be formed in the US and operate lawfully there.
- Have substantial potential to experience rapid growth and job creation
- This is demonstrated by either US Govt (Federal, State or Local) grants of at least $100,000, OR
- Funding of at least $250,000 from a qualified investor (VC, Angel investor etc US citizen or a business controlled by a US citizen)
For the full list of criteria of ‘qualified investor’ see immigration attorney Tahmina Watson’s comprehensive breakdown of the new rule.
The entrepreneurs must:
- Own a substantial interest in the Startup - meaning at least 10% when the application is submitted and maintaining 5% throughout the parole period.
- Have a central and active role in the business. This is because the entire purpose behind the grant of parole is to facility the individual’s ability to grow the startup (for the public benefit).
A few noteworthy things:
- If your application is denied, there is no appeals process. Only up to 3 cofounders can apply for parole status from the same business.
- If you are granted parole status and you have a family, they will be allowed to be paroled with you (they have to apply through the I-130 form).
- You have to be earning an income already - the US requires applicants to have a minimum household income just north of $80k (to avoid you becoming a ‘charge on the system’)
- Your parole status can be revoked at any time if the USCIS think that your business is no longer serving the public benefit.
If you are after more information, I recommend reading the blog post by the seth Ben-Archer Goldberg USA mentioned above, he goes into much more detail.
or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can read the actual rule
Hope this helps! If you have any more questions or are looking for legal assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact Goldberg USA http://www.goldberg.com.co
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