USCIS Announces the Return of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program


Welcome back to the Visalawyerblog! We have a very exciting announcement for you this afternoon. The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is back and in full force!

Today, May 10, 2021, USCIS announced that it will no longer pursue Trump era efforts to terminate the International Entrepreneur Parole Program and will instead remain committed to the continuance and implementation of the program to benefit immigrant entrepreneurs.

This decision is all part of the Biden administration’s efforts to restore faith in our legal immigration system, as outlined in Executive Order 14012, requiring DHS to identify and remove agency actions that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system.

What’s been happening with the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

The International Entrepreneur Parole program was first established during the final days of the Obama administration with a planned implementation date of July 17, 2017. The program was designed to expand the admission of certain entrepreneurs into the United States by granting them temporary permission to enter the United States, (also known as “parole”) for a period of up to five years in order for the entrepreneur to begin a start-up business in the United States. Qualifying businesses include those with a high potential for growth and expansion.

The program did not establish a permanent immigration option, nor did it qualify an entrepreneur for permanent residence. Instead, the program was implemented as an option for eligible entrepreneurs wishing to remain in the United States on a temporary basis. One of the main advantages of the program was that entrepreneurs could take advantage of a much simpler immigration process known as requesting “parole” instead of having to apply for an investor visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Sadly, shortly after Donald Trump assumed the Presidency in early 2017, his administration quickly went to work to dismantle and undo the International Entrepreneur Rule before its planned implementation date.

The Trump administration set the stage for the undoing of the program by first issuing a rule in the federal register to delay the program’s implementation date to March 14, 2018, giving the agency more time to terminate the program.

On May 29, 2018, the administration formally moved to terminate the program by publishing a proposed rule to terminate the program altogether. Since then, the program has remained in a state of limbo, with the Trump era proposed rule still sitting idle in the Federal Register.

Today, the Biden administration made clear that the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is here to stay.

What is the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?

The Biden administration has now breathed new life into this program that will surely benefit entrepreneurs from all corners of the world. It creates an exciting new option for those who may not otherwise qualify for an alternative visa type such as the E-2 Treaty Investor visa or L visa types.

The International Entrepreneur Parole Program grants qualifying foreign nationals’ permission to enter and remain in the United States on a temporary basis for a period of up to five years, for the purpose of launching their start-up business in the United States. Eligible entrepreneurs must demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through their business venture, and that they merit a favorable exercise of discretion based on their business’ potential to create jobs in the United States.

What are the general requirements of the program?

  • The applicant must have established a U.S. start-up business within five years before the application for parole;
  • The applicant must hold an ownership interest in the startup of at least 10 percent;
  • The applicant must play an active and central role in the operations of the business, and not merely be an investor; and
  • The start-up must 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. Foreign nationals who only partially satisfy the funding criteria must provide additional compelling evidence of the start-up’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation

*IER parole may be granted for up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity.

How long can entrepreneurs be paroled into the US?

Approved entrepreneurs are paroled into the United States for an initial period of up to 30 months, with authorization to work for the start-up entity only. Qualifying dependents receive parole for the same period as the principal, and spouses are eligible to apply for employment authorization separately by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.

An additional 30 months of parole may be available if the entrepreneur demonstrates that:

  • The business continues to operate;
  • The entrepreneur retains at least a five percent 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.

What are some of the potential drawbacks of this program?

Unlike a formal visa application process such as the E-2 visa, “parole” does not grant a visa immigration status to those who are approved under the program. Instead, USCIS only grants those who qualify a status known as “parole,” which is a discretionary and temporary permission to enter and remain in the United States for the purpose of directing and growing the business. In addition, “parole” under this program is only a temporary option that allows the entrepreneur to live and work in the United States. It does not make approved applicants eligible for permanent residence. Entrepreneurs who wish to apply for permanent residence in the future must qualify under a separate U.S. immigration program.

Another potential drawback is that entrepreneurs who are granted parole under the program are only eligible to work for their start-up business and no other employer.

Since “parole” is a discretionary permission to enter the U.S., parole can be revoked by the U.S. government at any time if the start-up is no longer in operation or otherwise ceases to provide a significant public benefit to the United States.

Can my spouse and children obtain parole?

Yes, spouses and children of the foreign entrepreneur may also be eligible for parole. While spouses may apply for work authorization once present in the United States as parolees, the children are not eligible to work.

A spouse or child of an entrepreneur applying for parole under this rule must demonstrate that he or she: Is independently eligible for parole based on significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons; and merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

In a Nutshell

While there are limitations and drawbacks that must be considered by potential applicants, overall, the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is a great option for those that easily satisfy the requirements and are looking for a temporary option to grow an established business in the United States. It is also a great option to consider for those that may not qualify for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa and have fewer immigration options at their disposal. Entrepreneurs should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each immigration process to determine if this program is right for them.

Where can I find more information?

We invite you to review the information links provided below for more information about the re-launch of this program. If you would like to discuss your immigration options including potential qualification for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, please contact our office for a consultation.

Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

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