As detailed here, the Department of Homeland Security announced in 2021 that it has relaunched the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, which permits foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop startup entities with high growth potential in the United States. In our earlier post, we detail the requirements for international entrepreneur parole, along with specific examples of evidence that can be submitted.
How do I apply for parole under the IEP Program?
Step 1: In order to apply for parole under the IEP, the entrepreneur must first file a Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole, with USCIS, along with the applicable filing and biometrics fees ($1,200 and $85, respectively, as of September 2021).
Step 2: The entrepreneur will then be notified that they must submit their biometrics, either at a U.S. Consulate or at a USCIS field office.
Step 3: After the I-941 is approved, the entrepreneur is said to have received “conditional approval” for parole. The entrepreneur must then visit the U.S. consulate in order to obtain a boarding foil in their passport. With the boarding foil, the entrepreneur may then seek entry at a U.S. port of entry and, if allowed to enter, receive parole.
Why does an approved Form I-941 only give me “conditional approval”? What else do I need to do to receive parole?
Parole is only considered to have been “conditionally approved” once the I-941 is approved. This is because the actual grant of parole is made at the port of entry, by an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
If my Form I-941 has been approved, how likely is it that a border officer will still deny me parole?
Border officers have discretion to deny entry to individuals, even if the individual has been granted conditional parole through an approved I-941. That being said, USCIS states the following on their website, which gives some reassurance that an approved I-941 will usually lead to a grant of parole:
“So long as circumstances do not meaningfully change after USCIS conditionally approves Form I-941, and DHS does not discover material information that was previously unavailable, CBP’s discretion to parole the individual at a port of entry will likely be exercised favorably.”
Step 3 above seems to require that the entrepreneur must leave the U.S. in order to receive parole. So can an applicant apply for parole under the IEP Program from within the U.S.?
An entrepreneur can apply for parole under the IEP Program from within the U.S. since the foreign entrepreneur can file the I-941 while they are either inside or outside the U.S. However, since parole is granted by CBP at a port of entry, the entrepreneur must actually depart from the U.S. and seek entry at a port of entry in order to be granted parole under the IEP Program.
I am Canadian. Is the process any different for me?
Yes. Canadians do not need to obtain a travel document (such as a boarding foil) before approaching the port of entry. They may request parole at a U.S. port of entry by presenting an approved I-941.
If I am in the US on a nonimmigrant visa, does filing the I-941 allow me to stay past my I-94 expiration date?
No. Unlike filing a change or extension of status, filing a Form I-941 does not permit individuals to remain in the U.S. beyond their period of authorized stay (typically the expiration date of their Form I-94). These individuals must depart before their I-94 expires, or else risk accruing unlawful presence.
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