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USCIS Relaunches the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP)

Under the International Entrepreneur program, International Entrepreneurs who have established a business in the U.S. may be granted five years of authorized stay in the United States.

On May 10, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Department of Homeland Security is withdrawing a 2018 notice of proposed rulemaking to remove the International Entrepreneur program from DHS regulations.

What is the IEP?

Under the IEP, International Entrepreneurs who have established a business in the U.S. may be granted up to five years of authorized stay in the United States.

Parole status is not the same as visa status. It does not permit its holder to file for a change of status within the United States. However, if approved, it will allow its holder to enter the U.S. (be paroled in) for two years with automatic employment authorization and start working for their startup.

Entrepreneurs who are granted parole will be eligible to work only for their start-up businesses. Parole may be given to up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity and their spouses and children.

A spouse of an entrepreneur may apply for employment authorization in the United States, but their children are not eligible for such approval based on this parole.

What has changed?

The U.S. does not have a visa program designated for entrepreneurs. To this date, all attempts by Congress to pass such legislation have failed. The Obama administration introduced the IEP program to allow foreign entrepreneurs to enter and work for their U.S. startups. The new program was scheduled to take effect on July 17, 2017.

On July 11, 2017, the DHS published a rule in the Federal Register delaying the program’s implementation until March 2018 and stating the DHS’s intention to rescind the IEP regulation entirely. However, the National Venture Capital Association filed legal action against DHS and prevented the termination of the program.

On May 10, 2021, the Biden administration clarified that the International Entrepreneur Parole Program (IEP) is here to stay. In a statement released by USCIS, the agency has said that it will no longer pursue removal of the program and that the IEP “will remain a viable program for foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the United States".

What are the eligibility requirements for the IEP?

To be eligible, the entrepreneur must demonstrate the following:

  1. The entrepreneur has at least 10% ownership in a startup.

  2. The startup is a U.S. company.

  3. The startup was founded in the last five years.

  4. The entrepreneur has a central and active role in the startup and actively operates it.

  5. The startup has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation. As evidenced by either:

    1. Significant capital investment (at least $250,000) from qualified U.S. investors with established track records,

    2. Significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from federal, state, or local government agencies; or

    3. Showing other reliable and compelling evidence (such as admission into a highly competitive startup acceleration).

  6. The entrepreneur otherwise merits a favorable exercise of discretion.

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*This article has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice. Readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

© Copyright 2020 by Revital Shavit Immigration law


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