Entrepreneur Parole Program

In a rule issued in the waning days of the Obama Administration, international entrepreneurs who have established a business in the United States, demonstrate significant U.S. funding, and show that their business has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation are eligible for parole into the US. See International Entrepreneur Parole.

Under the entrepreneur parole program, qualifying entrepreneurs can receive parole but are not eligible for permanent residence unless they qualified under another U.S. immigration program. Approved entrepreneurs can be paroled into the United States for an initial period of up to 30 months with authorization to work for the start-up entity only. Qualifying dependents can receive parole for the same period as the principal, and spouses would be eligible to apply for employment authorization. No more than three entrepreneurs can be granted parole per start-up entity.

Though USCIS has agreed to accept and process entrepreneur applications, it is not clear as of December 31, 2017 how they will be adjudicated given the highly discretionary nature of parole adjudications and the Trump Administration's ultimate goal of rescinding the program. It should also be noted that as a discretionary grant, entrepreneurial parole can be revoked by the U.S. government at any time if the start-up is no longer in operation or otherwise ceases to provide a significant public benefit to the United States.

Initial Application

To be eligible for parole under the January 2017 rule, a foreign entrepreneur is required to meet the following criteria:

(1) The applicant must have established a U.S. start-up business within five years before the application for parole,

Supporting documents include: Corporate formation documentation to establish. Articles of Formation of Entity, Organizational Minutes, Bylaws/Member Operating Agreement, Stock/Membership Register, Current Government Registry, Tax Certificate

(2) The applicant must hold an ownership interest in the startup of at least 10%,

Supporting documents include: Articles of Formation of Entity, Organizational Minutes, Bylaws/Member Operating Agreement, Stock/Membership Register, Current Government Registry, Tax Certificate, Tax Return listing ownership

(3) The applicant must play an active and central role in the operations of the business and not merely be an investor,

Supporting documents include:

  • US Organizational/Personnel Chart showing position for employee 'to be' transferred, the group into which he is transferred and any direct/indirect reports
  • Employee Detail List of other team members or direct/indirect reports by name, title, job description, degree, and salary with resumes and diplomas
  • Position Description stating the duties of the beneficiary and the specialized knowledge to perform the duties of the position and team and any direct/indirect reports

(4) 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 qualifying U.S. federal, state, or local government entities.

Supporting documents include:

  • Government RFP, RFB, proposal, grants, bank statements
  • Investor Stock offer, stock purchase, organizational minutes of investment, bank transfer statements, bank statements;
  • Invoices;
  • Cancelled checks and wire transfers, along with matching invoices;
  • Bank statements showing matching debits;
  • Escrow agreement, escrow account statement in the U.S., and escrow receipt (as applicable), contracts, lease, and much more as applicable to the investment.

(5) Additional compelling evidence of the start-up's substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation:

a. Investments from established U.S. investors. The applicant may show that the entity has received significant investment of capital from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments.

Supporting documentation demonstrating that the start-up entity has received investments of capital totaling $250,000 or more from established U.S. investors (such as venture capital firms, angel investors, or start-up accelerators) with a history of substantial investment in successful start-up entities.

b. Government grants. The applicant may show that the start-up entity has received significant awards or grants from Federal, State or local government entities with expertise in economic development, research and development, or job creation.

Supporting documentation demonstrating that the start-up entity has received monetary awards or grants totaling $100,000 or more from government entities that typically provide such funding to U.S. businesses for economic, research and development, or job creation purposes.

c. Alternative criteria. The applicant may provide additional reliable and compelling evidence that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States. Such evidence must serve as a compelling validation of the entity's substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Extension of Parole

An additional 30 months of parole is available if the entrepreneur demonstrates that:

  1. The business continues to operate,
  2. The entrepreneur retains at least a 5% ownership interest and continues to play a central role in the business, and
  3. The business has (a) created at least five qualifying jobs, (b) received at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, government grants or awards, or a combination thereof, or (c) generated at least $500,000 of U.S. revenue and averaged 20% in annual growth during the initial parole period.

Fees & Costs

Our usual attorney fee for preparing for filing the Entrepreneurial Parole Application and supporting documentation is $3,500. Form I-941, Application for Entrepreneur Parole required fees (including biometric services fees is $1,200 and the biometric services fee is $85. Other costs include FedEx charges of about $90, evaluations of foreign degrees as equivalent to a U.S. degree, and translations of documentation to English. Current USCIS Entrepreneurial Parole Application processing times is approximately 3 months. Premium Processing is not available. The attorney fee quoted requires the applicants to be diligent in providing the required information or an additional communication fee of $500 applies.

Contact a San Francisco Immigration Lawyer

Contact an experienced immigration law attorney at Litwin & Smith. Led by a certified specialist in immigration, our team of immigration and naturalization attorneys can assist you and your family with all of your business and personal immigration needs.

For more detailed information regarding work and family visas, green cards, and other immigration and naturalization issues, please view our Immigration Articles.