National Interest Exceptions Now Valid for 12 Months and Multiple US Entries
With COVID-19 travel restrictions still in place for a number of countries worldwide, many foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. from or through restricted countries require an exception from the restrictions authorized by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Throughout the pandemic, DOS has accepted requests for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) from the travel restrictions based on evolving criteria benefitting U.S. interests, such as support of critical U.S. infrastructure or direction of significant economic activity. Each consular post is responsible for processing NIEs within the post’s jurisdiction, and NIEs were valid for one U.S. entry within 30 days of approval. On July 6, 2021, DOS announced that all NIE waivers issued in the last 12 months are automatically extended for 12 months from the date of approval and are valid for multiple entries, as long as they are used for the same purpose for which they were granted. This 12-month period of validity will also apply to all newly issued NIE waivers. This is a significant benefit to anyone who has already been issued an NIE waiver. In addition, it should reduce the number of NIE waiver requests at consular posts thus hopefully reducing wait times for new waivers.
DHS has Relaunched the International Entrepreneur Rule
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relaunched the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), allowing DHS to exercise discretionary authority to grant temporary entry for up to 30 months to foreign national entrepreneurs who provide “significant public benefit” to the U.S. through their work with a recently-formed start-up. Significant public benefit can be demonstrated through significant capital investment (over $250,000) from established U.S. investors; receipt of at least $100,000 of federal, state, or local government funding; or a combination of partial funding and compelling evidence of the potential for growth, such as the entrepreneur having a strong record of start-up success, acceptance into a reputable accelerator, or proof that the start-up has produced cutting-edge research and/or created new technologies. To qualify, an entrepreneur must own at least 10% in a start-up created in the last five years that has already done some business and must maintain at least a 5% interest over time. Additionally, an entrepreneur must play an active and role in the start-up’s operations.
IER parole is available to an entrepreneur and their dependent family members for a total of 60 months – 30 months initial admission, with one opportunity to be “re-paroled” – provided that the entrepreneur can demonstrate that the start-up has received at least $500,000 of additional funding; has generated $500,000 revenue at a 20% annual growth rate; has created at least 5 qualifying jobs; or can demonstrate comparable compelling evidence of the start-up’s continued potential for rapid growth and job creation. Only 3 entrepreneurs per start-up may receive IER parole.
IER parole is discretionary, so it can be denied or revoked by DHS based on derogatory evidence such as criminal conduct, fraud, or national security concerns. A parolee must maintain a household income of at least 400% above the current poverty level while in the U.S., which is currently about $70,000 for a two-person household. IER parole alone does not provide a green card pathway, and an entrepreneur must successfully apply for admission in another classification to remain in the U.S. after the IER parole expires.
If you believe you may qualify for IER parole and are interested in applying, please contact your Parker Gallini attorney.