To be considered for parole (permission to temporarily be in the U.S.), the entrepreneur will need to demonstrate that his/her startup has the potential for rapid growth and job creation. USCIS will look at several factors:
Significant VC funding from established investors; OR Significant awards or grants from certain federal, State, or local governments entities
To apply for the new visa, an entrepreneur would need to demonstrate they:
Formed an entity in the U.S. within the last three years preceding the initial application;
Possess at least 15% ownership in the entity AND has an active, central role in the operations;
Establish the ability for rapid growth by either:
Receiving at least $345,390 or more from established U.S. investors;
Receiving government grants of $100,000 or more; OR
Provide other compelling evidence that his/her entity has the potential for rapid growth.
If the entrepreneur can only partially meet the above guidelines, additional factors can be considered.
There is also an income requirement for the entrepreneur and their household, the “Income-Related Condition on Parole”. This will require, as a condition of entrance into the U.S., the applicant maintain a household income that is greater than 400% of the federal poverty line for his/her household size. This means with a family of three the entrepreneur will need to maintain an income of $80,360. For a single person this number for 2016 is $47,080. The applicant and the applicant’s spouse’s income may be considered together to meet this requirement. For those familiar with what startup founders pay themselves, this might be a challenge!
WHAT IS THE COST?
The purposed filing fee for the new Form I-941 will be $1200 plus a $85 fingerprinting fee. Dependent’s filing fees will be $360 + the $85 fingerprinting fee each.
The spouse of the entrepreneur applying will be allowed to apply for work authorization. The filing fee for the work authorization will be around $380.00.
WHAT IS THE VALIDITY PERIOD?
The parole would be granted initially for up to 2 years based on the impact the startup potentially has for rapid growth. It appears 1 renewal will be available for the applicant, for 3 additional years (5 years total), if they can demonstrate:
Additional funding – at least $500,000;
Annual revenue has reached at least $500,000, with an average annual growth of at least 20%; AND
Job Creation – the startup has created at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers
Each entity will be allowed no more than three entrepreneurs on this new parole.
WHAT DOES THIS REALLY MEAN FOR ENTREPRENEURS
The new rule appears to be great for startups heading into or just graduating from YC, 500 Startups, Draper University, and accelerators/incubators that are already well known. A very common scenario, however, is an international startup that has received funding in their home country and decides to scale in the U.S. with their non-U.S. investment. Since a requirement of this parole is the startup received U.S. investment funds, it will be interesting to see how this affects the collaboration between U.S. and foreign investors.