International Entrepreneur Parole
On May 10, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made an announcement confirming that that the International Entrepreneur (IE) program remains a viable program for foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the United States. The program was first announced in 2017, but in 2018, the Trump administration essentially put a hold on it. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has now withdrawn that hold.
The program is designed help to strengthen and grow our nation’s economy through increased capital spending, innovation and job creation.
The IE program grants qualifying foreign nationals temporary permission to enter and remain in the United States for up to five years to grow a start-up business that has potential for rapid growth and job creation. Parole may be granted to up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity, as well as their spouses and children. Entrepreneurs granted parole are eligible to work only for their start-up business. Their spouses may also apply for employment authorization in the United States.
An applicant would need to show following to be eligible for parole:
The applicant has recently formed a new entity in the United States that has lawfully done business since its creation and has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. An entity may be considered recently formed if it was created within the 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing of the initial parole application.
The applicant owns at least 10 percent of the entity;
The applicant has an active and central role in the operations and future growth of the business, and is not a mere investor.
The entity must have received a capital investment of at least $250,000 from established U.S. investors or at least $100,000 in grants or awards from qualifying U.S. federal, state, or local government entities. An applicant who partially meets the above criteria can still be eligible by showing additional compelling evidence of the start-up’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
The initial parole would be for 2.5 years. An additional 2.5 years of parole may be available if the applicant demonstrates that:
The entity continues to operate;
The applicant retains at least a five percent ownership interest (reduced from the initial ten percent to allow for additional funding) and continues to play a central role in the business; and
The business has created at least five full-time jobs for U.S. workers; 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.
While the parole does not directly lead to a Green Card, it could provide the time needed to pursue other longer term solutions. The IE program can be a useful immigration solution for some entrepreneurs.
Dilip Patel of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 222-1120 or email email@example.com