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Everything You Need to Know About the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

Everything You Need to Know About the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

Under the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program, a foreign national can come to the United States to start and/or expand a business venture. The program is intended to encourage American economic and job development.

On this page, we cover what International Entrepreneur Parole is, why it is not a U.S. entrepreneur visa, and the steps you must take to apply for International Entrepreneur Parole.

What Is International Entrepreneur Parole?

The International Entrepreneur Parole Program is a way for foreign nationals to legally start a business in the U.S. If you meet the IEP program’s requirements, you can come to the United States to start a business. The point of the program is to provide “significant public benefit” to the United States.

The IEP program has many benefits, including its encouragement of any sort of entrepreneurial business idea. The program can support an entrepreneur in any industry, so long as they make a strong case to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This openness to a variety of industries makes the IEP program attractive for many applicants, especially because many employment visas have specific industry-related job requirements.

The International Entrepreneur Parole program can also be renewed as your business grows. We will cover those request details further down the page, but the program can be used for:

  • Making an initial request
  • Making a request for additional time
  • Applying for a material change for your business

USCIS grants the entrepreneur parole to startup businesses that can make significant impacts to benefit the public.

History Behind the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

The International Entrepreneur Parole program was relaunched by USCIS at the start of the Biden administration. The program itself was originally created under the Obama administration but was launched only recently because it was never actually initiated under the Trump administration.

What Is the International Entrepreneur Rule?

The International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant parole for foreign nationals on a case-by-case basis. The foreign national must show that their business and stay in the United States provides “significant public benefit,” meaning their business is for a humanitarian cause.

According to the IER and USCIS, the entrepreneur must also show that they “merit a favorable exercise of discretion.”

Additionally, the IER states that:

  • Parole will only be granted for a person who works for their business only
  • Each startup business can only have three (3) entrepreneurs who are granted the IEP
  • Spouses and children may be eligible for parole
  • If granted parole, the spouse only—and not any children—is allowed to apply for work authorization in the United States

Is There a USA Startup Visa?

Unfortunately, there is no startup visa in the United States. There is no such thing as an EB-6 visa green card. Instead, the EB-6 is the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, meaning no EB-6 green card is given. EB-6 is a classification for the allowance of stay in the U.S., not a green card.

The point of the IEP program is to allow foreign nationals to legally enter and establish a business in the United States. It does not, however, lead to an entrepreneur green card nor does it provide a path to any employment or entrepreneur visa.

One of the benefits to the IEP program is that you do not need a visa to start a business in the U.S. However, you can also not attain a visa through the program.

Entrepreneur parole can be extended, meaning your time in the United States can be as well. The initial entrepreneur parole period is 30 months. After that time is up, you can apply to extend your parole.

Green Card Through Business Ownership

As of right now, there is no path for obtaining a visa through the International Entrepreneur Parole program. You must apply for a visa outside of the program if you wish to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

The United States does not have an entrepreneur visa. However, speak with your immigration attorney about employment-based visas. Although there are constraints on forming a new business, employment-based visas do allow you to obtain a green card.

One example of this option is applying for an L-1B intracompany transferee visa. Under the L1-B visa, you can open a business, but it needs to be part of a larger parent company, brand, affiliate, or subsidiary. However, you can still apply to be either an employer or an employee.

The L1-B also requires a person with “specialized knowledge” about the business/organization. If this sounds like an option you’re interested in, speak to the experienced attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, PC today.

Student Visa Employment

If you are in the United States on an F-1 student visa and are interested in the IEP program, you will still need to leave the United States before you can obtain parole status. There are also other options available to students who have an F-1 or M-1 visa, including Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training specifically for students.

International Entrepreneur Parole Eligibility

If you are an entrepreneur applying for the IEP program, you must show USCIS that you are eligible to be granted entrepreneurial parole. You must:

  • Have at least 10% ownership interest in the startup business
  • Play an important, active role in the startup business
  • Be applying for a business that was started in the US. within five years of your application
  • Play a significant role in your business’s success
  • Include evidence that the startup provides significant public benefit through qualified investors; these investors can include:
    • Qualified U.S. investors making a minimum investment of $250,000
    • Federal, state, or local government bodies investing a minimum of $100,000 in qualified government funds such as grants and/or awards

Grants and/or awards can be given for:

  • Economic development
  • Research
  • Job creation
  • Other typical entrepreneurial activities

You may also be eligible for IEP if you prove that your startup has produced new jobs and is rapidly growing, even if you only meet partial financial investor requirements.

It is important to remember that each startup is allowed only three International Entrepreneur Parole classifications. Keep in mind, this is not how to get an entrepreneur visa in the USA. Instead, it is an immigrant classification that allows you to start a U.S. business.

How to Apply for International Entrepreneur Parole

To apply for International Entrepreneur Parole, you need to fill out the following documents and provide supporting evidence proving your eligibility:

  • Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  • Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification

Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole

Form I-941 is used for the initial parole request, asking for additional time, or amending your original application.

Initial Entrepreneurial Parole Request

Provide USCIS with the following information as evidence about your startup:

  • Personal identity information
  • Evidence proving your role in the startup, your ownership stake, and the business’s qualifiers for the program
  • Documentation that your business meets the qualified investor requirements

If you are granted parole, you are allowed 30 months to grow your business.

The filing fee for Form I-941 is $1,200, with an additional biometrics fee of $85, for a grand total of $1,285.

Extending Your Entrepreneurial Parole

In order to obtain a re-parole after the initial 30-month period, you can reapply using Form I-941. The request is for an additional 30 months. The International Entrepreneur Parole program can last up to five years if you both choose and are qualified to apply for re-parole.

To re-parole, along with your Form I-941, send USCIS evidence that:

  • Your business/organization still maintains startup qualifications
  • You are still qualified as an entrepreneur
  • You have retained 5% ownership interest in your company
  • During the initial period, your startup:
    • Created at least five qualified jobs
    • Has received a minimum of $500,000 from qualified investors and/or government grants or awards
    • Has a minimum of $500,000 in annual revenue
    • Averaged 20% annual revenue growth
    • Provides evidence of potential growth for the future

Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

The main entrepreneur parolee is allowed to apply to bring their spouse and children to the United States using Form I-131. You may file this application together with or separately from the initial Form I-941 application.

Be sure to include all evidence that shows you have a relationship with the applicant with copies of a birth certificate and/or marriage certificate. You must also show the applicant is filing for the International Entrepreneur Parole program.

Form I-131 has a filing fee of $575 with an additional biometrics service fee of $85, if applicable.

Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

The spouse of the parolee can apply for employment authorization if their Form I-131 is approved. Make sure to submit Form I-765 only after the entrepreneur has received verified parole.

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification

If you are an employee applying for entrepreneur parole, you will need to submit Form I-9.

Applying for International Entrepreneur Parole With Nonimmigrant Status

You are allowed to apply for the IEP program if you hold a nonimmigrant status. You can apply from within the United States if your nonimmigrant status is still viable. If you do not have nonimmigrant status, you will apply for entrepreneur parole while outside of the United States.

If you apply for the IEP program with nonimmigrant status, know that you cannot be both an entrepreneur parolee and hold nonimmigrant status. If this describes you, after your IEP application is approved, you have the option to leave the United States and re-enter for your IEP determination.

To clarify, there is no F-1 visa to start a business, but you can apply for the program if you already have a visa, such as an F-1 nonimmigrant visa.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney Today

The International Entrepreneur Parole program is a fairly new immigrant classification, which is why it is always a good idea to work with an attorney who is experienced in immigration law.

The attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. have been practicing immigration law for over 30 years. If you have questions about creating an international entrepreneur LLC business or other humanitarian entity, contact us today! Call us at 312.444.1940 or fill out our online contact form.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!