As part of the Biden Administration’s effort to promote access to the legal immigration system, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) withdrew a 2018 proposed rule to eliminate the international entrepreneur (IE) parole program. The program, which was created under the Obama Administration, resulted in only a few hundred applications and fewer grants before it was effectively ended by the Trump Administration.
Rebooting the program is another signal of the Biden Administration’s desire to support and encourage legal immigration as a benefit to the United States. As noted when the program was created, it is a way to encourage “foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the United States, which are expected to facilitate research and development in the country, create jobs for U.S. workers, and otherwise benefit the U.S. economy through increased business activity, innovation, and dynamism.”
- The applicant must qualify as an entrepreneur;
- The business must qualify as a startup;
- The business must have received either:
- A qualified investment of at least $250,000 from qualified investors; or
- At least $100,000 through qualified government awards or grants
- within the 18 months before applying for IE parole.
The terms in bold are not necessarily intuitive. For example, to qualify for the program, the entrepreneur needs to have only 10% ownership in the business entity. However, the “startup” must-have lawfully done business before the application is made and already received substantial funding. “Qualified investors” include only those who have invested no less than $600,000 in startup entities over the past five years which created substantial revenue or at least 10 jobs. In other words, IE parole could not be used by most college dropouts starting a business in a garage with money from their parents.
A temporary solution
IE parole may be granted for up to three years per startup entity. Individuals granted parole would be subject to the usual requirements if they later decide to apply for a nonimmigrant visa, to immigrate to the US, or to eventually qualify for US citizenship.
Accompanying family members
The entrepreneur’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for parole. The spouse may also apply for employment authorization.
For more information about IE and business immigration, please consult your Dentons immigration attorney.