United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reinstated the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, which was originally introduced during the Obama administration. During this five-minute video, Partner and Attorney Diya Mathews and Immigration Lead Toni Ordona cover the highlights of the program, including which entrepreneurs qualify, what parole entails, how to qualify for renewal, and more.
Qualifying for the Program
The International Entrepreneur Parole Program provides parole, or temporary permission to remain in the United States, to certain qualifying foreign national entrepreneurs who operate a business in the United States. The program allows entrepreneurs to live in the US and work on their business for up to five years if they meet certain conditions. Eligibility requirements include:
- Establishing a start-up business in the United States in the five years prior to filing the application.
- Holding a minimum 10% ownership interest in the startup.
- Playing an important role in operations, beyond mere investment.
- Receiving start-up capital investment of at least $250,000 from US investors or at least $100,000 in grants from qualifying US government entities.
No more than three entrepreneurs may receive parole per start-up organization, and each approved parolee can work for just one approved start-up company.
What Are US Investors?
A US investor is either an individual or an organization based in the United States, with majority ownership held by US citizens or green card holders. The investing organization must regularly make substantial investments in start-ups that deliver revenue and job growth. Investment funds must come from a lawful source, in addition to other requirements.
Length of Stay in the US
Approved entrepreneur parolees may remain in the United States up to 30 months, or two and a half years. Dependents can also remain in the US for the same period. Spouses can apply for work authorization, but children are not eligible.
An entrepreneur may be eligible for a 30-month parole extension if they can meet certain conditions, including:
- The business is still in operation.
- The entrepreneur plays a central role in operations and maintains a minimum of five percent ownership interest in the business.
In addition, the business must meet one of the following conditions:
- Job creation: At least five qualifying jobs.
- Funding: At least half a million in qualifying awards, government grants, or investments, or
- Revenue and growth: $500,000 minimum revenue in the United States, and 20 percent average annual growth rate during the parole period.
Entrepreneurs may still qualify for renewal, even if they partially meet these criteria. These individuals must demonstrate the start-up’s significant potential to grow and create jobs.
Parole can be revoked at any time by the US government if the start-up goes out of business or stops providing public benefit to the US.
What Does Parole Entail?
Parole is not a traditional immigration status. Instead, it provides temporary permission to enter and remain in the United States.
The International Entrepreneur Parole Program does not offer a direct pathway to permanent residence, or a green card. Individuals who would like to apply a green card will need to qualify under a different immigration program, such as under one of the employment-based green card categories.
The Obama Administration established the International Entrepreneur Parole Program in 2016, but the Trump Administration put it on hold in 2017.
Now, the Biden Administration is reinstating the program to support foreign national entrepreneurs, based on its commitment to reducing barriers to US immigration, in accordance with Executive Order 14012.
USCIS is currently accepting applications for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program.
Contact your trusted Chugh, LLP immigration professional to understand whether you qualify for the program, to apply, and to improve your chances of approval.