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International Entrepreneur Rule Questions and Answers – Part 1

Woman with many questions

The International Entrepreneur Rule was recently restarted in the U.S.  This visa option gives entrepreneurs the ability to come to the U.S. for up to 5 years if they meet certain conditions.  You can find out more about the specific International Entrepreneur Rule requirements by clicking here.

To receive this immigration benefit, the applicant would have to demonstrate that the entrepreneur and the business would provide a significant public benefit to the United States and that the business has significant potential for rapid growth and job creation.

This series of posts (Post 1 and Post 2) focuses on the top 15 questions and answers associated with the International Entrepreneur Rule. (Post 1) – You can see Post 2 by clicking here.

1. Is the International Entrepreneur Rule a Visa?

No.  This immigration benefit is distinct from a visa as visas usually permit multiple entries to the U.S. and also give applicants a “status” that is consistent with the visa.  For example, an E-2 visa usually allows you to enter the U.S. multiple times over a period of 5 years, and when you enter, you are in E-2 status.  This program allows you a single entry under “parole” status.  While parole sounds bad, it is a period of authorized stay that allows you to work at the business you specified in your application.

2. Can the entrepreneur be a passive investor and does the entrepreneur need experience?

The applicant must be well-positioned to advance the entity’s business and cannot be a passive investor. The entrepreneur must meet one of the following criteria to satisfy the rules:

  • Possess at least 10% ownership in the entity at the time of adjudication and grant of parole; and
  • Have a central and active role in the operations such that his/her knowledge, skills and experience would assist the entity to grow in the U.S.

3. How will the entrepreneur show the potential for rapid growth in the U.S?

This can be accomplished in a number of ways:

  • Significant investment of capital ($250,000) from qualified U.S. investors with established track records (note the investors must be U.S. investors). This would normally mean that the investors are venture capital funds, angel investors or start-up accelerators. This could also be accomplished if the investor has a proven track record of investing in companies that did well. (You should note that this could NOT be satisfied if the entrepreneur invested their own money only); or
  • Government grants of $100,000 or more (must be U.S. federal, state or local government entities with expertise in economic development, research and development, or job creation); or
  • Alternate criteria – Ideally it would be better if one could meet one of the two items above. If not, you can submit additional reliable and compelling evidence that the entrepreneur would provide significant public benefit to the US. and would create jobs.  Evidence that may work here include the following:
    • Business plan
    • Contracts
    • Letters of intent
    • Expert Letters
    • Evidence of jobs already created

4. How long can the International Entrepreneur Parole status be granted for?

The initial grant is 30 months. If certain criteria are met, this can be extended for another 30 months.

5. How many people can receive the parole status for one start-up?

3 entrepreneurs from the same start up can receive the parole status. You should keep in mind that some of the evidence will not change from investor to investor.  For example, if one business has an investment of $250,000 from qualified investors, all 3 entrepreneurs would meet that particular part of the rule.

You can see the questions in the answer of this second series by clicking here.

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