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Get to know the International Entrepreneur Parole program (US)

Most American work visas do not provide the option to extend one’s stay past their expiration date. However, in certain cases, entrepreneurs may be granted an exception via the International Entrepreneur Parole program (IEP).

Under the International Entrepreneur Rule, the Department of Homeland Security is able to extend a foreign national’s stay in the United States if they determine the individual’s startup would provide significant public benefit. This is usually demonstrated by substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

While the IEP was at risk of being cancelled in 2018 – just one year after its inception – a recent executive order issued by President Joe Biden had the proposal overturned. The program will therefore continue to run for the foreseeable future.

Fast facts about the IEP

  • Up to three co-founders of a startup can self-petition, and therefore do not need to be sponsored by an employer.
  • Successful applicants will receive a parole document that is initially valid for 30 months.
  • Spouses of successful applicants and their unmarried children under 21 are also eligible for parole.
  • While the IEP has no minimum wage requirement, applicants must have a household income that is greater than 400% of the federal poverty line.

Who can apply for this type of immigration parole?

To be eligible for this program, a foreign national entrepreneur must:

  • Have a substantial ownership stake (10% or more) in a startup that was created in the US in the last 5 years or less.
  • Play a significant and active role in the business, i.e. a C-suite or executive titles that proves they are very involved in the company’s growth and success. 
  • Provide a significant public benefit to the US. This criterion is evaluated by considering whether:
    • The startup has received a significant capital investment (at least $250,000) from a qualified U.S. investor(s) with a proven track record of successful investments
    • The startup has received significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) for economic development, R&D, or job creation from federal, state, or local government entities 
    • The startup partially meets one or both of the above mentioned criteria, and can provide additional supporting evidence of its potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Can entrepreneurs renew their IEP status?

An additional 30 months of parole may be granted under the following conditions:

  • The startup is still operational
  • The entrepreneur still owns at least 5% of the company and continues to play a central role in the business

The startup must also have:

  • Created at least five qualifying jobs
  • Received at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, government grants, and/or awards
  • Generated at least $500,000 in revenue, with an average of 20% annual growth during the initial parole period

Set the conditions for success

While it’s extremely helpful to have an attorney in your corner for any type of immigration application, the IEP is particularly tricky for individuals applying on their own.

Since this is a relatively new program (established in 2017), immigration authorities do not yet have extensive experience processing IEP applications. And since the request for parole can be a make-or-break moment for your startup, there’s absolutely no room for error.

Speak to a professional at Exeo Attorneys today to learn more about how we can help.

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