Relaunch of Program to Attract International Entrepreneurs
Thursday, May 13, 2021
International Entrepreneur Rule

The Biden administration is breathing life into the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER). It has announced that the IER will be launched anew, because it will “strengthen and grow our nation’s economy through increased capital spending, innovation, and job creation.”

Although there were stops and starts, the IER was never actually eliminated by the Trump administration. Instead, it was criticized and largely ignored.

The purpose of the IER is to improve the nation’s economy by making it possible for certain promising start-up founders and entrepreneurs to begin growing their companies in the United States. The IER amends the regulations on discretionary parole to do so.

A qualifying entrepreneur will be paroled into the United States for an initial 30-month period (with a possible extension) and will have work authorization incident to status. To be eligible, an applicant:

  • Must have a substantial (at least 10 percent) ownership interest in the start-up; and

  • Must have an active and central role in the operations and future growth.

The entity:

  • Must have been recently created (within five years of the application); and

  • Must prove that it has significant investment from qualified and established U.S. investors (at least $250,000) or the receipt of significant awards or grants from federal, state, or local governments (at least $100,000).

USCIS is ready for applications and the administration is planning a public relations campaign, including information sessions and outreach activities, to publicize the IER opportunity. The regulations can be found at 8 CFR 212.19 and the Application for Entrepreneur Parole form is on the USCIS website.

More than 50 percent of start-ups in the United States with a $1 billion valuation were founded by at least one immigrant. The United States is a popular destination for start-up founders, but many other countries (including Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Israel, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand) are competing to entice entrepreneurs to their shores. Other countries have sought to take advantage of the Trump administration’s criticisms of the IER and less hospitable approach to legal, employment-related immigration. Reaffirming the IER is an important step to the United States meeting the competition.


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