In January 2017, the Obama Administration introduced the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, authorizing qualifying entrepreneurs to stay in the country for as long as five years without needing a visa.
While there are a variety of U.S. visa programs available for entrepreneurs and foreign business owners, it can be difficult to meet all the qualifications for a particular one. This program was designed to offer foreign entrepreneurs an alternative method to live in the U.S. and grow their business when they may not yet qualify for a visa.
Shortly after it was introduced, the Trump Administration paused the program and planned on scrapping it entirely. Just recently, the Biden administration opened the program back up, accepting applications once again from international entrepreneurs.
Details of the program
There are several requirements to qualify for the International Entrepreneur Parole Program:
- You must own a substantial share of a startup entity that was created in the U.S. within the past five years.
- That startup must have the potential for rapid growth and job creation, and you must be prepared to play an active role in fostering that growth.
- The startup must have received at least $250,000 in capital from U.S. investors OR at least $100,000 in awards or grants from U.S. government entities.
If approved, applicants will be granted an initial 30 months of temporary stay in the country. Applicants will then have the opportunity to extend their stay another 30 months if they show that their business is continuing to grow, create jobs and acquire investments.
The Department of Homeland Security reviews all applications on a case-by-case basis and maintains the right to revoke the parole at any time. They also may accept applicants who only partially meet the qualifications, as long as they provide compelling evidence of their business’s likelihood to succeed.
Is this program enough?
The parole program offers a simplified path for many international entrepreneurs to enter the U.S. and begin building and growing their business enterprises. The DHS estimates that approximately 2,940 entrepreneurs will be allowed in the U.S. under the program every year, providing much relief to the backlogged immigration system. The program also allows for the applicant’s dependents and spouse to temporarily stay in the country as well.
However, many question the long-term effectiveness of the program. Those who are accepted still have no path to permanent residency without first qualifying under an existing visa program. While the parole program is not perfect, it does offer an effective temporary solution until further immigration reform is implemented.