The final version of the International Entrepreneur Rule recently issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a significant opportunity for those entrepreneurs who do not qualify for trader or investor visas. The rule, which takes effect on July 17, 2017, grants qualified entrepreneurs an initial stay of up to thirty months (2.5 years) to grow their startup in the U.S., with a possible thirty-month extension. Eligibility criteria for applicants include:
1. Significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 10%);
2. Formation of the startup in the U.S. within the past five years;
3. Active role in business operation (cannot be merely an investor);
4. Substantial potential for rapid business growth, as evidenced by receipt of significant investment of capital (at least $250,000) or significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain qualifying government entities. Applicants who only partially meet this criterion may still qualify if they can provide additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
Up to three applicants per start-up entity may apply. Spouses and children of entrepreneurs may accompany them, and spouses may apply for work authorization. For additional details on the eligibility criteria, please visit www.uscis.gov. We are hopeful this rule will encourage international entrepreneurs to continue making key economic contributions to our nation’s economy.