International Entrepreneur Parole: A Path To Startup Success In The U.S.


Sophie Alcorn, an experienced immigration attorney, sheds light on the current status of the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program in the United States. In response to a reader’s query, Sophie provides valuable insights into the program and its relevance to startup founders.

Key Takeaway

The International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program, while still available, faces challenges in terms of processing time and practicality. President Biden’s directive aims to improve the program for startup founders in critical and emerging technologies. Obtaining government grants can be a direct path to qualifying for IEP, and it may be more suitable for founders with grants or economic development funding.

The IEP Program: Still Available but Challenging

Despite its availability, the IEP program faces significant challenges, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) taking over two years to process IEP cases. Moreover, the application and activation processes often prove to be more time-consuming and impractical compared to conventional work visas such as O-1 or H-1B visas.

President Biden’s Directive

President Biden has mandated the Department of Homeland Security to enhance the IEP process for startup founders in critical and emerging technologies, as highlighted in his recent executive order on AI. This directive aims to address the existing issues and streamline the program for entrepreneurs in fields like AI.

Insights from an Immigration Attorney

Sophie Alcorn discusses her conversation with Samuel Newbold, an immigration attorney specializing in assisting entrepreneurs with the IEP program. Newbold emphasizes that obtaining government grants from entities such as the Urban Future Lab can be a direct path to qualifying for IEP.

Newbold also points out that IEP may be more suitable for startup founders who have secured grants or economic development funding, as opposed to funding from venture capital or private investors, due to the intricate evidentiary requirements.

Qualifying for IEP and Alternatives

The minimum requirement for IEP eligibility is to receive at least $106,000 in government funding, which can even be nondilutive. However, private venture capital firms face challenges in justifying their track record and investments, making the process complex and sensitive.

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