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A program that is supposed to bring renewed optimism among foreign entrepreneurs allows them to enter and stay on U.S. soil and actively engage in running their high growth U.S. startups. Opening doors to foreign entrepreneurs through this program is one of the most popular immigration reforms after President Biden took over office.

A Bit of History

The program initially announced during the last days of President Obama's administration in 2017 as a parting gift to foreign entrepreneurs as a new way to stay in the U.S. It was published as the final regulation by USCIS in Jan 2017 by expanding the government's parole authority to authorize immigrant benefits for foreign entrepreneurs, scheduled to get enforced from July 16, 2017. But President Trump took over office; the program went into the doldrums.

What is the International Entrepreneur parole program?

A program that offers specific immigration solutions to entrepreneurs of foreign origin typically considered as unfit for any visa status as per current immigration rules of the land. All these are because existing solutions like O1, E2, L1 or H-1B fail to accommodate modern business startup models and funding practices. Under this program, the founders will have an option to remain in the U.S for up to five years, split between two 30-month parole grants, to execute on the high-growth business potential of their innovative companies.

What are the qualifying guidelines?

The rules of the parole program are laid down based on the concept that the founders applying for the program should be able to provide the U.S with a "significant benefit" both in terms of economic and employment generation if allowed to enter via parole. The program also lays down specific criteria to evaluate the benefit generated in the initial 30-month period, and based upon that decision, extending it further would be decided.

The critical requirements as per the program are:

Qualifying startups: The startups should be a registered entity within five years preceding the founder's parole application date. At the time of extension of the parole, the startup should be still operational and possess the potential for high growth and employment generation in the future.

Founder's equity: During the initial application process, the founder must have 10% equity interest in the startup that can drop over time but can't go below 5%.

Founder's role: The founder needs to show active participation in the startups business affair and has the necessary skill and knowledge to help the same grow and succeed.


Piece of advice for founders:

The International entrepreneurship parole program 2021 seems to offer an incredible opportunity to succeed, especially tech startups, but this is not a permanent solution.

The parole rule does not provide a pathway to permanent residency (Green Card) in the U.S, so one needs to plan for the time beyond five years. It is better to have an immigration strategy created with the help of an immigration attorney for the future and the time of filling for the parole application.


Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy has been serving the immigrant community for the last 15 years and has helped many businesses run by immigrants or hire immigrants. For more details about the program and filling, reach the attorney at

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