• Daniel Shaffer, Esq.

How To Take Advantage of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is continuing the International Entrepreneur (IE) parole program, which will allow foreign entrepreneurs to create start-up businesses with high growth potential in the United States. Foreign entrepreneurs who are granted parole for this program can also seek parole for their spouses and children, and spouses of foreign entrepreneurs may also be able to obtain work authorization.

What Is the IE Program?

Under the International Entrepreneur parole program, DHS may grant parole to foreign entrepreneurs who are able to demonstrate that their businesses will provide a significant public benefit to the US, and that they merit parole. If granted parole for the IE program, foreign entrepreneurs may only work for their own business venture and can remain in the US for up to 5 years. Spouses and children may also be eligible for parole, and spouses can apply for work authorization once in the US. Children, however, are not eligible for work authorization through this program. Up to 3 foreign entrepreneurs may apply together as part of the same start-up business venture.

Who Is Eligible?

DHS outlines the following eligibility criteria for foreign entrepreneurs and their spouses and children:

Foreign entrepreneurs must demonstrate that they:

  • “Possess a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity [at least 10%] created within the past five years in the United States that has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

  • Have a central and active role in the start-up entity such that they are well-positioned to substantially assist with the growth and success of the business.

  • Will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on their role as an entrepreneur of the start-up entity by showing that:

  • The start-up entity has received a significant investment of capital [at least $250,000] from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;

  • The start-up entity has received significant awards or grants for economic development, research and development, or job creation (or other types of grants or awards typically given to start-up entities) from federal, state, or local government entities that regularly provide such awards or grants to start-up entities; or

  • They partially meet either or both of the previous two requirements and provide additional reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

  • Otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion.”

A spouse or child of an entrepreneur must demonstrate that he or she:

  • “Is independently eligible for parole based on significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reasons; and

  • Merits a favorable exercise of discretion.”

How Do I Apply?

To apply, you must file Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole, with the correct filing fees and biometric fees, as well as required documentary evidence to support your case. Note that the filing fee for this form is $1200 and the biometric fee is $85. If your Form I-941 is approved, you must get travel documentation from a US consulate abroad before you arrive at a US port of entry to request admission into the US. However, Canadian nationals may present an approved Form I-941 at a US port of entry if traveling directly from Canada to the US without getting travel documentation first.

Spouses and children of foreign entrepreneurs may file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, along with filing and biometric fees and supporting documentation to request admission into the US along with the entrepreneur. You may file Form I-131 together with the Form I-941, or separately.

If a spouse is admitted into the US along with a foreign entrepreneur, the spouse may then apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

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