Ask Sophie: Whatever happened to International Entrepreneur Parole?

Ask Sophie: Whatever happened to International Entrepreneur Parole?

technology By Dec 27, 2023 No Comments

Whatever happened to International Entrepreneur Parole?

Sophie Alcorn is an attorney, author, and founder of Alcorn immigration law in Silicon Valley, California. She is an award-winning Certified Specialist Attorney in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization, passionate about transcending borders, expanding opportunity, and connecting the world through compassionate, visionary, and expert immigration law.

Dear Sophie,

I remember reading in your Column a few years ago about the International Entrepreneur Parole program and how it’s the closest thing the U.S. has to a startup visa. What happened to the program? Is it still around? How does a startup founder start building in the U.S. quickly? — Perfect for Parole?

Dear Perfect,

Thanks for your “perfectly timed” questions. Yes, the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program remains available, but the time it takes for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate IEP cases is more than two years, and the application and activation processes are often more time-consuming and impractical than a normal work visa such as an O-1 or H-1B. In recognition of these issues, President biden mandated that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), improve the IEP process for startup founders in AI and Other critical and emerging technologies in his recent executive order on AI.

I recently chatted with Samuel Newbold, an immigration attorney based in New York City, who also has a practice centered on investors and Entrepreneurs. He has helped many Entrepreneurs obtain IEP.

Understanding the IEP Program

One of the most direct paths to qualifying is through government grants from startup funders, such as the Urban Future Lab, which partners with the city, academia, and the private sector to encourage economic growth, job creation, and Innovation.

Sam says that in his experience, IEP tends to make more sense for startup founders who have received grants or economic development funding, rather than funding from venture capital or private investors due to the complex evidentiary requirements. The minimum requirement is to receive at least $106,000 in government funding, which can even be nondilutive.

“The [IEP] program requires private venture capital firms to justify their track record and that they’ve made good investments,” says Newbold. “As you can imagine, that’s very sensitive, private information” that most investors are sensitive to divulging.

Qualifying for IEP

The IEP program is designed to provide a path for foreign Entrepreneurs with promising Startups to build their companies in the U.S. To qualify for IEP, Entrepreneurs must meet specific criteria and provide compelling evidence demonstrating the potential for rapid company growth and job creation.

For example, obtaining government grants, achieving success in emerging technologies, and creating partnerships with local organizations can bolster an entrepreneur’s IEP application. This approach aligns with the government’s goal of stimulating economic growth and Innovation.

Alternatives to IEP

While IEP remains an option for certain Entrepreneurs, it’s essential to explore alternative pathways to successfully establish a presence in the U.S. as a founder.

For instance, the O-1 visa is tailored for individuals with extraordinary abilities, including Entrepreneurs who have demonstrated exceptional achievements or are poised to make significant contributions in their respective fields. This visa offers flexibility and may expedite the process of establishing a Business presence in the U.S.

Additionally, the H-1B visa program enables companies to sponsor foreign workers for specialized occupations, providing an opportunity for Entrepreneurs to leverage their expertise and contribute to the U.S. economy through valuable Innovation and job creation.

Enhancing the IEP Process

In response to the challenges Entrepreneurs have faced with the IEP program, efforts are underway to streamline and enhance the application and activation processes. President biden’s executive order on AI signals a commitment to supporting startup founders in critical and emerging technologies, paving the way for potential improvements in the IEP program.

By fostering collaboration between government agencies, industry stakeholders, and legal professionals, the aim is to refine the IEP program’s requirements and procedures, ultimately facilitating greater accessibility and efficiency for qualifying Entrepreneurs.


While the International Entrepreneur Parole program remains available, Entrepreneurs must carefully consider the complexities and timelines associated with the application and activation processes. Exploring alternative visa options and staying informed about potential enhancements to the IEP program can empower Entrepreneurs to navigate the immigration landscape effectively and pursue their ambitions of establishing and growing successful ventures in the U.S.

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Source: techcrunch

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