The Biden Administration is Restoring the International Entrepreneurship Parole Program

On Monday, May 10, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would withdraw a May 2018 proposed rule to remove the International Entrepreneur (IE) Parole Program from DHS regulations. In effect, the IE Parole Program will remain an option for foreign entrepreneurs to come to the United States (U.S.) to create and develop start-up entities with high growth potential.

Who is Impacted?

The original IE Parole Program final rule guided DHS to use its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to foreign entrepreneurs who could demonstrate that their stay in the U.S. would provide a significant public benefit through the potential for rapid business growth and job creation.

The IE Program by the Numbers:

  • An entrepreneur is eligible if they have at least 10% ownership stake in an entity that’s received significant investments from U.S. investors or U.S. federal, state, or local government entities.
  • The IE Program can be applied to up to 3 entrepreneurs per start-up entity, as well as their spouses and children.
  • The IE Program lasts up to 60 months — approved petitioners are paroled for an initial period of up to 30 months, with the possibility of an additional 30 months of parole if certain requirements are met.

What are the Employment Rules?

  • Entrepreneurs granted parole are eligible to work only for their start-up business.
  • Their spouses may apply for employment authorization in the U.S., but their children are not eligible for such authorization based on this parole.

What does this mean for permanent residency?

The IE Program is not a direct path to permanent residence. To become a permanent resident, entrepreneur parolees would have to apply for any immigrant or nonimmigrant status for which they may be eligible. Applicants who apply for an H-1B or O-1 from this status would be required to travel outside the US. Also of note, is that a successful start-up may increase the chance of EB-1 eligibility for the green card process.


BACKGROUND | The Obama administration published the initial IE Parole Program final rule on January 17, 2017, to go into effect on July 17, 2017. Before the final rule’s effective date, DHS, under the Trump administration, published a different final rule to delay the implementation of the Obama administration’s IE Parole Program final rule to March 14, 2018. The delay was to allow DHS additional time to seek public comments on the proposal to rescind the final IE Parole Program rule. However, on December 1, 2017, a federal court vacated the delay and required USCIS to accept IE Parole Program applications. Despite this federal court ruling, on May 29, 2018, the Trump administration issued the proposed rule to remove the IE Parole Program from DHS regulations, which has now been rescinded by the Biden administration. 

In effect, the IE Parole Program was technically in place throughout the Trump administration, but the uncertainty about the program’s future prevented eligible entrepreneurs from taking advantage of it. The withdrawal of the May 2018 proposed rule should make the IE Parole Program a more accessible immigration option for international entrepreneurs who wish to bring their skills and talents to the U.S.

This decision by the DHS is consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order 14012.