What is the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?
The startup culture is still predominant in the modern business world, with a growing number of small- to medium-sized businesses expanding quickly. Many times, the USA offers entrepreneurs who wish to grow their tech-based enterprises an ideal playing field. The inability to easily secure a visa for their families to immigrate to the USA has kept foreign nationals from doing so up until this point.
The United States has recently started to offer an incredible opportunity for founders of technology firms to migrate to the U.S. legally and expand their business. Startup entrepreneurs can receive up to a 30-month immigration status known as “Parole” through the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP), allowing them to live in the United States with their families and grow their businesses. Although it is not a “visa” per se, founders at businesses that have received grants or investments from the United States are still able to work there without the need for an H-1B, O-1A, or other visa or green card.
Who is Eligible for the IEP?
If you wish to apply for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, the eligibility criteria are as follows:
1. Have a startup based in the United States
2. The startup must have been founded within the past 5 years
3. The applicant must hold at least a 10% ownership interest in the startup
4. The applicant is central to the startup and actively operates it
5. The startup has received at least $105,659 in government awards or grants, or at least $264,147 from qualified U.S. investors
6. If the financial criteria cannot be fully reached, the applicant can demonstrate the potential for growth and employment creation using alternative methods
Eligibility Criteria for Extension of IEP Status
In certain cases, there is a scope for extension of the beneficiary’s IEP status to a total of up to 30 months. The international entrepreneur parole rule criteria are as follows:
1. The applicant must hold at least a 5% ownership stake in the startup
2. The applicant must continue to play a central and active role in the startup
3. The startup has achieved one or more of the following during the initial IEP period:
- Has received at least $528,293 in additional qualifying funding
- Generates at least $528,293 in annual revenue with at least 20% average annual revenue growth
- Created at least 5 full-time jobs for U.S. workers
However, one’s family must depart the United States after the applicant’s stay under IEP status has reached its five-year maximum
International Entrepreneur Parole to Green Card
If an applicant wants to apply for a visa or a Green Card, they must do it from their home country.There isn’t really an entrepreneur visa in the US, however, the applicant can discuss employment-based visas with an immigration lawyer. A green card can be obtained through employment-based visas even though there are restrictions on starting a new business. Application for an L-1B intracompany transferee visa is one such example. The applicant can start a business with the L1-B visa, but it must be a part of a bigger parent company, brand, affiliate, or subsidiary. The applicant can still apply to work as an employer or an employee. A person with “specialized knowledge” about the company or organization is also necessary for the L1-B.
How to Apply for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program?
You need to fill out the following documents by providing supporting documents:
- Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole
To apply for International Entrepreneur Parole, you must first submit a Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with the requisite documents and prescribed filing fees.
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
The primary entrepreneur parolee may submit a Form I-131 application to enter the country with their spouse and children. This application can be submitted either with or without the first Form I-941 application. Include copies of the applicant’s birth certificate and/or marriage certificate together with any other documentation that demonstrates the applicant’s relationship to the applicant. Additionally, one needs to demonstrate that the candidate has applied for the International Entrepreneur Parole programme.
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
If their Form I-131 is approved, the parolee’s spouse may submit an application for employment authorization. Make sure to only send in Form I-765 after the business owner has been granted verified parole.
Applying for International Entrepreneur Parole With Non-immigrant Status
Non-immigrants are eligible to apply for the IEP programme. If the status as a non-immigrant is still valid, one can submit an application from within the country. However an application for entrepreneur parole while outside of the United States will be necessary if there isn’t a valid non-immigrant status. One cannot be an entrepreneur parolee and have non-immigrant status if he applies for the IEP programme with non-immigrant status. In such instances,there is the choice to leave the country and return after his IEP application is approved in order to have his IEP determined. To be clear, there is no F-1 visa for starting a business, but in the event of a preexisting, such as an F-1 non-immigrant visa, one can apply for the programme.
For tech startups, their investors, American innovation, and the economy in general, this entrepreneur parole is an incredibly exciting development, truly becoming a godsend. That being said, it is crucial for all parties to fully comprehend this rule’s nuances to present the strongest application possible at the outset and create a workable long-term immigration strategy.
Each entrepreneur and paroled founder must consider the future and make plans for the period of time after the permitted five years of parole because this parole rule does not offer a route to permanent residency (Green Card) in the U.S. For instance, this could entail making preparations for an O-1 application for extraordinary ability or an EB1A ability-based Green Card, among other things.