Highlights of exciting recent developments and options for international entrepreneurs are summarized below.
DHS Reinvigorates International Entrepreneur Parole Program
On May 10, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security withdrew a 2018 proposed rule that would have ended the international entrepreneur parole program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it “will remain a viable program for foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential in the United States.”
Under the program, parole may be granted to up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity, as well as their spouses and children. Entrepreneurs granted parole are eligible to work only for their start-up business. Their spouses may apply for work authorization in the United States.
This is welcome news, although it remains hard to qualify for the program, and relatively few people have received parole. According to estimates, approximately 3,000 foreign entrepreneurs per year could qualify, and roughly 100,000 U.S. jobs may result over 10 years.
Among other things, entrepreneurs applying for parole under the program must demonstrate that their ownership interest in a start-up entity will “provide a significant benefit to the United States” based on their role by showing that the start-up entity has received a “significant investment of capital 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 from government entities; or they partially meet one or both of these requirements and “provide additional evidence of the start-up entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.” There is also an option to show that the entrepreneur otherwise merits a favorable exercise of discretion.
Whether the Biden administration will make it easier remains to be seen, although recent actions and statements seem encouraging. Acting USCIS Director Tracy Renaud said recently that “immigrants in the United States have a long history of entrepreneurship, hard work and creativity, and their contributions to this nation are incredibly valuable. The International Entrepreneur program goes hand-in-hand with our nation’s spirit of welcoming entrepreneurship and USCIS encourages those who are eligible to take advantage of the program.”
Other Options for International Entrepreneurs
If international entrepreneur parole is not feasible or the entrepreneur would like to consider other visa options, alternative viable pathways include:
- EB-1A “Einstein” green card
- E-2 treaty trader/investor visa
- F-1 visa for international students
- H-1B visa for entrepreneurs and start-up companies
- J-1 exchange visitor visa
- L-1 intracompany transferee visa
- TN visa for Canadian and Mexican entrepreneurs
- O-1 visa for entrepreneurs with extraordinary ability
- B-1 visa for visiting entrepreneurs
- National interest waiver green card
Miller Mayer has extensive experience advising international entrepreneurs. See the “Related Links” section below. For advice in specific situations, contact your Miller Mayer attorney.
- USCIS/DHS announcement, May 10, 2021,
- USCIS International Entrepreneur Parole page, which includes details on eligibility requirements, filing procedures, and links to forms
- “Using Existing Immigration Categories Creatively to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurs,” Miller Mayer, LLP, updated May 2021,
- “From Idea to IPO – Corporate and Immigration Issues for Entrepreneurs” (webinar), Miller Mayer, LLP,
- “Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Require Extraordinary Evidence: A Review of Recent Non-Precedent EB-1A AAO Decisions Under the Trump Administration,” Miller Mayer, LLP,
- “Entrepreneurship in the National Interest: A Review of AAO National Interest Waiver Decisions,” Miller Mayer, LLP,
- Presumptions and Entrepreneurs: A Review of Recent BALCA Decisions for Entrepreneurs,” Miller Mayer, LLP,