What are the requirements for initial parole under the International Entrepreneur Parole Rule, and what evidence can be used to satisfy the requirements?
As detailed here, the Department of State announced on May 10, 2021, that it has relaunched the International Entrepreneur Parole Program. The International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) 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 International Entrepreneur Parole Rule establishes USCIS’s authority to grant parole status to international entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that they would provide a significant public benefit to the U.S.
In order to receive parole under the International Entrepreneur Parole Rule, applicants must be a 1) qualifying entrepreneur that has a 2) qualifying startup that has received a 3) qualifying investment. We will cover each of these requirements below, along with examples of evidence an applicant might provide with their application to satisfy each. We will also discuss the alternative option that applies for those applicants that are not able to satisfy the third, qualifying investment criterion.
Please note that, per regulation, the applicable investment and revenue requirements are adjusted every three years. The figures contained in this guide are applicable starting in Fiscal Year 2022 (which begins Oct. 1, 2021).
What is a qualifying entrepreneur, and what evidence can I submit to show that I meet this requirement?
For the purposes of international entrepreneur parole, a qualifying entrepreneur:
- Possesses a substantial ownership interest in the startup entity (at least 10% ownership interest at the time of the initial grant of the benefit, and at least 5% ownership interest at the time of application for re-parole);
- Has 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
- Otherwise merits a favorable exercise of discretion.
Evidence that can be included in the application to show the entrepreneur’s ownership share includes organizational documents (e.g. articles of organization or operating agreement), tax records, and financial records. Additional evidence to satisfy the qualifying entrepreneur requirement includes degrees or other evidence of the entrepreneur’s knowledge, experience, or skillset; letters from government agencies, qualified investors, or business associations with specific knowledge of the startup or entrepreneur; press coverage; evidence of participation in a startup accelerator; or awards of patents the entrepreneur or startup as received.
What is a qualifying startup entity, and what evidence can I submit to show that my startup meets this requirement?
For the purposes of IEP, a qualifying startup entity must:
- Have been established in the U.S. in the five years preceding the date when the applicant applies for the benefit; and
- Show substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation.
In addition to organizational documents showing the date the business was formed (Articles of Organization or Incorporation, for example), the applicant may provide the following evidence to show the company’s demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation:
- Documentation showing the applicant’s academic background, ability to advance the startup entity, or prior successful experience with operating a business and creating jobs;
- Evidence of the startup entity’s selection to reputable startup accelerators or incubators, its national impact, scope, or social impact, and any positive effects on its locality or region;
- Corporate and/or tax records showing the number of customers, revenue generated by the startup, and/or jobs created by the startup;
- Evidence of additional investments or fundraising (e.g. through crowdfunding);
- Letters from government agencies, investors, or business associations with knowledge of the startup’s produce or services and/or the entrepreneur’s skills;
- Press coverage showing the entrepreneur or startup has received significant attention; or
- Patent awards.
What is a qualifying investment, and what evidence can I submit to show that the investment my startup received meets this requirement?
For the purposes of IEP, qualifying investments must be either:
- A substantial level of capital investment of at least $264,147 from qualified U.S. investors. The U.S. venture firm must establish a successful record of investment and be majority owned and controlled by U.S. citizens or green card holders (however, there is no requirement that at least 50% of the capital be sourced from U.S. citizens or green card holders). Or
- A substantial level of government funding of at least $105,659 in grants or awards from qualifying U.S. federal, state, or local government entities.
- A qualified investment cannot include investment from the entrepreneur or their family, or an entity any of them own.
Evidence that the investment funds are from a qualified investor can include government-issued proof of identity (if an individual investor) or organizational documents and proof of majority ownership by U.S. citizens or permanent residents (if an organizational investor); evidence of past significant investments, including bank records, purchase agreements, tax and/or payroll records.
Evidence that the investment amount is substantial can include copies of grant/award letters; bank records confirming receipt; documentation showing the trail and receipt of funds into the startup’s bank account; if applicable, documents showing that the capital was used to purchase equity or other security.
I am a qualifying entrepreneur with a qualifying startup, but I cannot fully satisfy the third requirement (that the startup must have received a qualifying investment). Is there any other way I might be approved?
Yes. Applicants who only partially satisfy this funding criterion can still be approved for IEP but must provide additional evidence of the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation, and submit “other reliable and compelling evidence.”
What specific evidence can be submitted to show that my startup has “substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation”?
Reliable and compelling evidence that the startup has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation can include, but is not limited to:
- Documentation showing the applicant’s academic background, ability to advance the startup entity, or prior successful experience with operating a business and creating jobs
- Evidence of the startup entity’s selection to reputable startup accelerators or incubators, its national impact, scope, or social impact, and any positive effects on its locality or region
- Corporate and/or tax records showing the number of customers, revenue generated by the startup, and/or jobs created by the startup
- Evidence of additional investments or fundraising (e.g. through crowdfunding)
- Letters from government agencies, investors, or business associations with knowledge of the startup’s produce or services and/or the entrepreneur’s skills
- Press coverage showing the entrepreneur or startup has received significant attention
- Patent awards
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