History of the Program
The Department of State announced on May 10, 2021, that it has relaunched the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, which was initiated in the final days of the Obama administration, but slated to be eliminated in 2018 under the Trump administration. The International Entrepreneur (IE) Parole Program promises to be a viable program for foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop startup entities with high growth potential in the United States.
The IE program establishes USCIS’s authority to grant parole status under the International Entrepreneur Rule (“IER”) to international entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that they would provide a significant public benefit to the U.S. In its one year of existence from 2017 to 2018, only one applicant was approved for the parole program. Please see here for more information regarding the difference between the IE and E-2 visas, L-1 visas, O visas, and NIW.
Specifically, entrepreneurs applying for parole under this rule must demonstrate that they:
- Have established a U.S. startup business within 5 years of applying for parole;
- Own at least a 10% interest in the startup;
- Have a central and active role in the startup entity such that they are well positioned to substantially assist with the growth and success of the business; and
Have received a capital investment of at least $250,000 from qualified U.S. investors, or at least $100,000 in grants or awards from qualifying U.S. federal, state, or local government entities. Applicants who only partially satisfy this funding criterion must provide additional evidence of the startup’s potential for rapid growth and job creation
Parole Length and Dependents
Applicants who are approved can be paroled into the U.S. for an initial period of up to 30 months. An additional 30 months of parole may be granted if the applicant demonstrates that:
- The business continues to operate;
- The entrepreneur retains at least a 5% ownership interest and continues to play a central role in the business; and
- The business has:
- Created at least five qualifying jobs;
- Received at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, government grants, or awards (or a combination thereof); or
- Generated at least $500,000 in U.S. revenue and averaged 20 percent annual growth during the initial parole period.
Parole can be revoked at any time should the company no longer be in operation or otherwise cease to provide significant public benefit to the U.S.
Under the IE program, parole may be granted to up to three entrepreneurs per startup entity, as well as their spouses and children. Entrepreneurs granted parole are eligible to work only for the startup business. Their spouses may apply for employment authorization in the United States, but their children are not eligible for such authorization based on this parole.
How to Apply
In order to apply, the applicant must file Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole, with the required fees (including biometric services fees), and supporting documentary evidence in accordance with 8 C.F.R. § 212.19 and the Form I-941 instructions. The filing fee for Form I-941 is $1,200 and the biometric services fee is $85.
Filing and obtaining approval of a Form I-941 application under this rule will not, by itself, constitute a grant of parole. If your Form I-941 application is approved, you must visit a U.S. consulate abroad to obtain travel documentation (for example, a boarding foil) before appearing at a U.S. port of entry for a final parole determination. A Canadian national traveling directly from Canada to a U.S. port of entry may present an approved I-941 at the U.S. port of entry without first obtaining travel documentation.
Dependents of the entrepreneur submitting the Form I-941 should also file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, with the required application fee and biometrics services fee, to request parole to accompany or join the entrepreneur. The Form I-131 may be filed concurrently with the Form I-941 or it may be filed separately. Should the entrepreneur’s spouse choose to work, they should also submit the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
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