International Entrepreneur Parole Updated

The International Entrepreneur Parole rule (IEP) is a rule that allows the Department of Homeland Security to grant parole and stay to foreign entrepreneurs. The rule was developed in 2013 by the Obama Administration, and it was set to go into full effect in 2017. However, when Trump became president, he put a halt to the rule. The Biden Administration has made efforts to reinstate the rule. The IEP was created because there is not a specific visa for starting up a company. While the rule allows greater ability for entrepreneurs from different countries to stay in the United States, entrepreneurs and their families must meet certain criteria to be granted parole.

Criteria for IEP

8 CFR § 212.19 details the requirements and criteria entrepreneurs must meet to be awarded parole. The CFR first defines an entrepreneur as:

a [noncitizen] who possesses a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity and has a central and active rule in the operations of that entity . . . For purposes of this section, [a noncitizen] may be considered to possess a substantial ownership interest if he or she possesses at least a 10 percent ownership interest in the start-up entity at the time of adjudication of the initial grant of parole and possesses at least a 5 percent ownership interest in the start-up entity at the time of the adjudication of a subsequent period of re-parole.

8 CFR § 212.19. To qualify for IEP, a noncitizen must first qualify as an entrepreneur by holding a certain portion of ownership in the entity. To apply for parole, a noncitizen must file a Form I-941 application with any additional required documents. Noncitizens must also pay a $1,200 application fee and a $85 service fee.

As an entrepreneur, noncitizens must demonstrate that their parole would provide a significant public benefit to the United States. A noncitizen can demonstrate this benefit through showing that he/she qualifies as an entrepreneur, showing that the entity is a start-up entity as defined in 8 CFR § 212.19(a)(2), proving that within the past 18 months, the entity received a qualified investment of $250,000 or more OR a qualified award or grant from the government of at least $100,000. If a noncitizen does not meet the grant/investment requirement, they may use other “reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation” to qualify for IEP. 8 CFR § 212.19. In considering these criteria, the DHS has full discretion in deciding whether or not to award parole by determining if a noncitizen’s presence in the United States creates a public benefit.  Any denials of parole cannot be appealed, and only 3 entrepreneurs per start-up entity can be awarded parole. The initial parole period is 30 months, and noncitizens can apply for re-parole of another 30 months. Additional criteria require parolees to make over 400% of the federal poverty and require reporting of any material changes. Additionally, the DHS has discretion to terminate parole without notice if they decide a noncitizen does not provide a significant public benefit.

After the initial parole period, non-citizens can request for a re-parole of up to 30 months through another Form I-941 applications.

Spouses and Children of IEP Holders

For spouses and minor children of an entrepreneur to gain parole alongside their entrepreneur family member, each spouse and child must provide evidence of their relationship to the entrepreneur, must file a Form I-131 Application for travel, and a judge must decide under their discretion that the individual merits parole based on public benefit or humanitarian reasons. Applications can be filed concurrently or separately from the entrepreneur’s main application for parole, and each application includes a $575 application fee and an $85 services fee for applicants between 14-79. Spouses afforded parole may become authorized for employment but minor children may  .

Overall, applicants should be aware that adjudication of the IEP process may take several months and no premium processing option currently exists for IEP applications. Applicants should consider potential time constraints to ensure they do not risk accruing unlawful presence or losing status.

For more information schedule an appointment with Attorney Jane Y. Lee.