The Biden administration announced on May 11, 2021 that it was restoring an Obama-era program, which has not been fully utilized, that allows foreign entrepreneurs to remain temporarily in the United States to monitor and grow certain start-up companies. The International Entrepreneurship Standard (IER) and the corresponding parole program were initially announced at the end of the Obama administration, but had not been implemented when the new Trump administration proposed withdrawing the rule.
The rebirth of the program opens up new opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses in the United States. The limited number of H-1B visas has made it difficult for foreign students and employers to stay in the United States after completing their studies. In addition, foreign participants in U.S. business incubators currently have few viable avenues to stay in the United States to grow their emerging businesses.
Unlike countries like Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom that have a start-up visa, the United States does not have visa categories for foreign entrepreneurs who want to set up business in that country. This program, while not a permanent visa or option, will grant employers an authorized period of stay and a work permit as long as they can demonstrate that their presence in the United States would have a significant public benefit through their company.
Under the International Entrepreneurship Parole Program, eligible entrepreneurs who have at least a 10% stake in start-ups are eligible to receive a “significant investment” from qualified U.S. investors or government entities and can demonstrate that your company would provide a significant public benefit. to apply.
In addition to the 10% stake, foreign employers must meet additional criteria to be entitled to parole:
- The start must have been created within five years prior to the parole application.
- The start-up must demonstrate substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- The applicant must play an important and active role in the operations of the business and not just be an investor.
- The start-up must have received a capital investment of at least $ 250,000 from qualified U.S. investors or at least $ 100,000 in grants or awards from U.S. federal, state, or local government entities. Employers who do not fully meet the funding threshold can provide additional evidence of the startup’s potential for rapid growth and job creation.
- No more than three foreign employers per start-up entity may be granted parole.
Approved applicants are on probation in the United States for an initial period of up to 30 months. They are only allowed to work for the startup entity. Spouses and minor children receive parole during the same period as the principal; spouses can apply for their own work permit. There may be an additional 30 months of parole if the employer meets additional requirements regarding job creation and investment.
The application is made on form USCIS I-941, Application for Entrepreneurship Rule.
While the program is a welcome development for entrepreneurs, it does not provide a direct path to temporary visas or permanent residency. In addition, the grant of parole is at the discretion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration and Immigration Services (USCIS), which may terminate or revoke parole at any time, leading to insecurity for successful applicants. .