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On March 13, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued comprehensive guidance on parole for international entrepreneurs. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the International Entrepreneur Rule on January 17, 2017, to enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States.

The International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) provides a framework for DHS to use its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to noncitizen entrepreneurs who possess a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity and who can demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through that start-up entity’s potential for rapid business growth and job creation.

To provide more guidance on this rule, USCIS published the Policy Manual which includes:

  • The criteria for consideration for the applicant, the start-up entity, and the qualified investment or government award or grant;

  • Evidence and documentation;

  • The discretionary nature of the entrepreneur parole adjudication;

  • Conditions on parole and bases for termination;

  • The criteria for consideration for an additional parole period; and

  • Options available to the entrepreneur’s family to join the entrepreneur as parolees and, if eligible, to obtain employment authorization.

**Please note some critical points about the IER **:

  • Different than a Visa -- Parole is different from receiving a Visa and the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) Program does not provide visas to those who are approved for the program. A visa usually gives a person the ability to enter the U.S. multiple times until the visa expires. Also, each time a person with a visa enters the U.S., they are typically formally admitted into the country, and they usually have the ability to change or adjust their status to another visa status. In contrast, those who are granted parole under the IEP Program are allowed to physically enter the U.S. (but not be “admitted into” the U.S.) one time, and for the specific purpose of developing their business. Each time the individual seeks re-admission to the U.S. the border officer will make a determination as to whether to grant parole for the remaining period of time until the parole period ends (typically a 30-month period).

  • Cannot Change Status while in the U.S. -- Anytime during the period of parole, an applicant may apply for classification as an immigrant or nonimmigrant, if eligible. However, because parole is not admission, an applicant would be ineligible for adjustment or change of status and would have to depart the United States to apply for admission as an immigrant or nonimmigrant, as applicable.

  • Period of Stay -- If qualified, parole may be granted for an initial period for up to two-and-a-half years. If approved for re-parole, the applicant may receive up to another two-and-a-half years, for a maximum of five years (60 months).

To view the Policy Guidance on the IER, please click here, and to view Frequently Asked Questions about the IER see this link.


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