India: A New Immigration Option For Start-Ups And New Entrepreneurs

Last Updated: 11 October 2016
Article by Poorvi Chothani

President Obama had proposed immigration benefits with a view to retain talent and promote innovation and business. There will be no new legislation to implement this but USCIS will soon publish draft regulations that will enable its office to grant parole to certain foreign-born entrepreneurs who establish start-up businesses in the US.

After the proposed regulation is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 45-day public comment period. After considering all the comments the USCIS may modify the draft regulations. The final regulations will probably be published either in late 2016 or early 2017 and become effective thereafter.

Parole is a term that is generally used in three contexts by the U.S. government - (1) Parole is granted to a person who does not meet the technical requirements for a visa or is inadmissible, permitting him/her to enter the United States on humanitarian parole for a temporary period of time; (2) Another use related to immigration is advance parole in which a person who already legally resides in the U.S. needs to leave temporarily and return without a visa. This typically occurs when a person's application to adjust status to permanent residency (to obtain a green card) is pending and the person needs to travel out of the U.S.; (3) It is also granted for temporary travel to those who received deferred action status by the USCIS, or have an asylum application pending.

Program Details

The USCIS is developing form I-941, Parole for Entrepreneurs status will be similar to those described above and will grant temporary long time stay in the U.S. Applicants may apply from within or outside the U.S. and are required to pay a filing fee of $1,200 plus an additional fee for biometrics. Entrepreneurs and their families are expected to receive travel documents and work authorization. Entrepreneurs can only work for the start-up while their spouses may take up any job in the U.S.

Initially, the parole would be issued by the USCIS for 2 years and could be extended up to 5 years if the start-up continues to operate, attracts more investment, creates new jobs, etc. However, if the start-up ceases to operate or fails to provide significant public benefits, the parole can be revoked.

The entrepreneur must at all times own at least a 10% stake in the start-up and must show that the start-up has created a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for US workers, generated $500,000 annually or has grown at the rate of 20% per year.

Qualified entrepreneurs are also required to maintain an income level of 400% of the HHS Poverty Guidelines and a spouse's income may be included to arrive at this figure.


  • Persons who have established a start-up business in the U.S. within 3 years before they apply for a parole;
  • Persons who own 15% or more of the start-up;
  • Persons who play an active role in the business. Passive investors cannot qualify;
  • The start-up must have received at least $345,000 in capital from qualified US investors or a minimum of grants from federal, state and local governments in the U.S. If these funding criteria are not met, the entrepreneur would have to demonstrate the start-up's potential for rapid growth and job creation;
  • No more than 3 entrepreneurs could be granted parole for a single start-up; and
  • Spouses and children of an entrepreneur would also be eligible for parole.

The business cannot be an investment vehicle primarily engaged in the offer, purchase, sale or trading of securities, futures contracts, derivatives or similar instruments.

While entrepreneurs from more than 60 countries that have E-2 Investor Treaties with the U.S. will have little incentive to request parole, Indian and Chinese nationals are the groups that are likely to benefit the most from this new temporary immigration option.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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