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A New Tool in the Immigration Toolbox for Startup Founders and Entrepreneurs

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The International Entrepreneur (IE) Parole Program was relaunched on May 10, 2021. The IE rule can be found at 8 CFR 212.19, which lists all the eligibility criteria and requirements to qualify for the program. You may learn more about the International Entrepreneur Parole Program criteria here.

One important distinction with a visa is that parole doesn’t constitute an admission and doesn’t confer an immigration status. This means that parolees cannot adjust status and obtain a green card without qualifying for another type of immigration status. This is an important distinction to keep in mind while exploring all immigration options, because what people call a startup visa isn’t actually one.

Another consideration is that the Department of Homeland security (DHS) possesses a high degree of discretion in granting parole, and it may terminate or revoke the program at any time, whereas common immigration visas, such as the E-2, L-1 or O-1 visas are defined by Congress and protected in the legislation. This is another difference worth mentioning.

Nonetheless, the IE Parole is a great option for entrepreneurs who may not otherwise qualify for other types of visas, because for example they do not wish to invest their own funds into the business, or because they are not from a treaty country (so cannot get an E-2 visa).

This program is a great opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to develop a promising startup in the United States and can demonstrate a “significant public benefit through the potential for rapid business growth and job creation.” This program was actually relaunched by the Biden administration with the protection of US interests in mind, as a means to strengthen the US economy recovery in the current pandemic context.

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