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DHS Announces Continuation of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

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Pasricha & Patel

The USCIS announced the continuance of the International Entrepreneur Parole program, which will become a viable way for foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses with high growth potential in the United States. The purpose of the International Entrepreneur Parole program is to grant a period of authorized stay, or “parole” to foreign entrepreneurs on a case-by case basis who can prove that their start-up business venture in the U.S. (created within the last five years) would provide a significant public benefit through rapid business growth and who merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

To qualify for parole, entrepreneurs must show the following:

  1. They possess a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity created within the past five years in the United States that has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation
  2. They have a central and active role in the start-up entity such that they are well-positioned to substantially assist with the growth and success of the business
  3. They will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on their role as an entrepreneur of the start-up entity by showing that:
    1. The start-up entity has received a significant investment of capital from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
    2. The start-up entity has received significant awards or grants for economic and development, or job creation (or other types of grants or awards given to start-up entities) from federal, state, or local government entities that regularly provide such awards or grants to start-up entities;or
    3. They partially meet either or both previous two requirements and provide additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation
    4. Otherwise, they merit a favorable exercise of discretion

Under this program, a period of authorized stay may be granted for up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity, for a period of up to 30 months. Additionally, the entrepreneur may apply for a 30-month extension of stay if he or she maintains an ownership interest in the business, and it continues to operate and grow. The company's progress as judged by its investment, job creation and revenue numbers will be the determining factors which will decide whether the additional extension of the parole will be granted or not.

Entrepreneurs granted parole are eligible to work only for their start-up business. The 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 of entrepreneurs granted parole are not eligible for employment-based on this parole.

It is important to note that the entrepreneur parolees do not have a direct path to permanent residence. Entrepreneur parolees will not have nonimmigrant visa status either. If the entrepreneur parolees wish to become U.S. permanent residents, they must qualify under an established U.S. immigrant visa program. In addition, the grant of parole is highly discretionary; DHS may terminate or revoke parole at any time, which subjects parolees to some uncertainty.

This program is a great opportunity for foreign nationals who otherwise do not qualify for other entrepreneurial temporary visas, such as the E-2 and L-1 “new office” visas. Since many countries are not part of the E-2 treaty, and the L-1 visa requirements can be cumbersome, the International Entrepreneur Parole Program is a great option for eligible foreign nationals to start up their business in the United States.