The International Entrepreneur Parole program, which was relaunched in May 2021, provides foreign start-up entrepreneurs (founders/ C-Suite) the opportunity to work in the United States to develop a promising start-up entity with significant potential for rapid business growth and job creation.
The International Entrepreneur Parole program is specifically targeted for early-stage tech entrepreneurs as an alternative to immediately qualifying for employment-based visa categories based on personal achievements or investment that do not consider the dynamics of a promising start-up entity in its early stages.
Entrepreneurs applying for parole under the International Entrepreneur Parole program must demonstrate that:
- At the time of adjudication and grant of initial parole they possess at least 10% ownership in a U.S. start-up entity created within the past five years;
- They hold a central and active role in the operations such that their knowledge, skills and experience would assist the start-up entity to grow in the U.S.;
- The start-up entity will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on their role as an entrepreneur of the start-up entity by showing either:
- Significant capital investment (currently at least $264,147) from “qualified” U.S. investors with established track records (e.g. venture capital funds, angel investors or start-up accelerators);
- Significant government grants (currently at least $105,659) from U.S. federal, state or local government entities with expertise in economic development, research and development, or job creation; OR
- Additional reliable and compelling evidence that the entrepreneur would provide significant public benefit to the U.S. and would create jobs (e.g. applicant’s academic background and experience developing successful ventures, patents for promising technology and/or cutting edge research in areas of national benefit, the performance and impact of the start-up entity etc.)
The entrepreneur can be abroad and secure funding while playing a central and active role in the operations. A total of up to three (3) entrepreneurs from the same start-up entity can separately receive parole. The process for parole is for the entrepreneur to obtain approval by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States prior to being issued entry authorization by a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country.
The entrepreneur can stay in the U.S. under the International Entrepreneur Parole program for an initial period of 30 months (2.5 years). The entrepreneur may be accompanied by their spouse and children under 21 years old. Parole may be extended for another 30 months for a totality of 60 months (5 years) if certain conditions are met including (1) that the entrepreneur retains at least a 5% ownership interest and continues to play a central role in the business; and (2) that the start-up entity has either:
(a) created at least five qualifying jobs during the initial parole period;
(b) received significant qualifying investments, government grants, and awards (currently at least $528,293) during the initial parole period; or
(c) generated significant U.S. revenue (currently at least $528,293) and averaged 20 percent annual growth during the initial parole period.
During the parole period, entrepreneurs may also seek permanent immigration options.
Written by Chris Costa, Senior Associate, and Heitor Vitor, Paralegal da Drummond Advisors