International Entrepreneur Parole for Business Owners

Are you a foreign entrepreneur interested in starting your own business in the United States? If so, the International Entrepreneur Rule Parole may be a good fit for you.

In September 2021, President Biden implemented the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), which was created by former President Obama but blocked by former President Trump. The IER program allows foreign nationals (people who are not US citizens or permanent residents) to live and work in the US for two and a half years if they demonstrate that their start-up business will provide a significant public benefit to the country. Applicants must also demonstrate that they play a central and active role in the start-up and have a substantial ownership interest in it. A maximum of three employees from the same entity may be granted Entrepreneur Rule Parole.

In order to qualify, your start-up business must have been established in the US within the past five years, and you must own at least 10% of the business. You also must show sufficient minimal investment of capital by qualified investors in your business. Qualified investors are US investors who have either 1) an established record of successful investments; 2) any US local, state, or federal government funding; or 3) a combination of both. Your business must have received at least $250,000 from at least one qualified investor within the 18 months before you apply for IER parole.

You should also submit evidence that your start-up has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. You can submit proof of investments, grants, patents, media coverage, payroll records, your credentials, and letters of endorsement from other entrepreneurs who are familiar with you and your business.

If you are granted International Entrepreneur Parole, it will be valid for 2.5 years. If the start-up continues to be successful, you can apply for an additional 2.5-year extension.  In your extension application, you must own at least 5% of the business. Additionally, the business must show that it has either 1) received $500,000 of additional funding from qualified investors; 2) earned revenue of more than $500,000 annually with at least a 20% growth rate from year to year; or 3) a combination of both.

You should know that receiving an approval notice for your Form I-941 does not grant parole in and of itself; you must also visit a US consulate abroad to get travel documentation, such as a boarding foil, before appearing at a US port of entry to receive a final determination on your parole.

Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age can also apply for parole as dependents if they demonstrate that they are independently eligible based on significant public benefit or an urgent humanitarian reason. For example, USCIS may consider family unity to be a significant public benefit because it incentivizes you to grow your business in the US.

When you apply for International Entrepreneur Parole, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age can file for a travel document along with the request for parole to accompany or join you. Once they arrive in the US, your spouse, but not your children, may apply for work authorization.

Keep in mind that International Entrepreneur Parole is not a pathway to US legal permanent residency or any other US immigrant or nonimmigrant status. Rather, it is an expansion of the Department of Homeland Security’s discretionary parole authority that aims to stimulate business growth and job creation in the US.

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