Empowering Global Innovators: Your Guide to the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

The International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program was a U.S. immigration initiative designed to allow foreign entrepreneurs to temporarily stay in the United States to develop and grow their startup businesses. 

Initially introduced by the Obama administration, the IEP was put on hold by the Trump administration before it could commence. In 2021, the Biden administration reintroduced the program. The overarching goal is to encourage high-growth potential startups, promote research and development and job creation for U.S. workers, and contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy.


International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program in the United States requires applicants to meet specific criteria:

  • Entrepreneur must
    • Own at least 10% of the startup.
    • Play an active, substantial role in operations.
    • Possess knowledge, skills, and experience to run the business.

The startup should

  • Have been formed within the past five years.
  • Secure a capital investment of at least $250,000 from qualified U.S. investors or $100,000 in grants or awards from qualifying U.S. government entities. Partially meeting funding criteria requires additional evidence of rapid growth potential and job creation.

What are the limitations of the program?

  • Parole is a temporary immigration status, not a permanent residency or visa. Unlike other immigration programs, the International Entrepreneur Parole program does not offer a direct pathway to permanent residency or citizenship.
  • Parole is typically granted for a maximum initial period of 30 months, with the possibility of extensions. You get a maximum of 5 years, which might not be enough time to develop a startup.
  • The program is aimed at entrepreneurs with high-growth potential startups. Participants must comply with reporting and other requirements to maintain their parole status, which adds administrative burdens and potential risks for non-compliance. For example, you can only work for the particular startup mentioned in your petition.
  • When leaving the country, you risk not being able to reenter again as a parolee. 

As a foreign entrepreneur, you might want to determine your eligibility for the National Interest Waiver (NIW) before trying the IEP.

Want to know more about EB2 NIW? https://stelmakhlaw.com/eb2-national-interest-waiver/

Take a quiz to see if you qualify https://stelmakhlaw.com/entrepreneurs-investors-quiz/

The program has many limitations, so why should I consider it?

  • The International Entrepreneur Parole presents a viable option for entrepreneurs who are out of status or have overstayed their visas in the US and are not eligible for nonimmigrant status. 
  • USCIS may grant IER parole for up to three entrepreneurs per startup entity. 
  • Spouses and children of the noncitizen entrepreneur are eligible for parole. Please note: while spouses may apply for work authorization once present in the United States as parolees, the children are not eligible to work. 

How to Apply?

You must file Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole, with the required fees and supporting documentary evidence. If your Form I-941 application is approved, you must visit a U.S. consulate abroad to obtain travel documentation. Canadian nationals can skip this step and appear at a U.S. port of entry right after receiving their Approval Notice.

The spouse and children of an entrepreneur who submits Form I-941 may file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, requesting parole to accompany the entrepreneur. They may file the Form I-131 concurrently with the Form I-941 or separately. If USCIS approves Form I-131 and the spouse of the entrepreneur is paroled into the United States, the spouse may apply for employment authorization.

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