QUESTION: I heard there was a new visa for entrepreneurs. If I plan to work for a start-up or maybe even start my own business, might this visa help me work in the United States?
by Jason Marquart, Team Leader
ANSWER: In 2014 President Obama called for the Department of Homeland Security to use its discretionary parole authority to support innovation and entrepreneurship. As a result, in late August the DHS published the proposed rule RIN 1615-AC04 in the Federal Registry and opened the rule to public comment.
The process of publishing the proposed rule means the rule is tentative and may be revised significantly before it becomes law, but in reviewing the proposed rule, we have an idea of what DHS has in mind. Our initial view is that RIN 1615-AC04 may not be all that useful for international students.
Truth be told, the new rule does not actually create an entrepreneur visa, but rather it creates a situation in which a foreign national may be paroled in to the United States in order to help build a business. Furthermore, the process of obtaining the parole includes a host of qualifications.
The entrepreneur parole rule as proposed requires an individual to own at least a 15% stake in a business that has received a substantial investment from a “qualified investor.” The qualified investor must have invested at least $345,000 in the business. And, interestingly, the investor must have previously made substantial investments in other companies, effectively proving that they are an established venture capitalist. It is no surprise that many entrepreneurs are referring to this as the “Shark Tank” visa.
As it stands, it is hard to imagine how this proposed rule will help most of our international students. If you believe that you may be able to benefit from the entrepreneur parole, you may want to consult an immigration attorney after the final rule is published.
Keep in mind that as an international student, in most cases, you would need Optional Practical Training (OPT) to start your own business.
If you have any questions regarding OPT, please contact the Office for International Students and Scholars at firstname.lastname@example.org, 314-935-5910, or visit during walk-in hours. Best of luck in the job search process.
Send us your questions! “Ask an OISS Advisor” is a regular feature in the International Voice where OISS advisors answer questions that have been submitted by International Students and Scholars from Washington University. This means that we need your help! If you have a question that you would like to have answered in this column, please send it to us. It might be a question for which you don’t know the answer or it may be a particular issue that you have noticed causes confusion for many other international students. If you’re not sure if it’s a good question for this feature, go ahead and send it in, and we will decide. Please send your questions to the editor of the International Voice at: email@example.com . Indicate if you prefer for your question to be anonymous.