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Startup visa: International Entrepreneur Parole for Founders Moving to the US



The International Entrepreneur Rule—the Obama Administration’s creative substitute for a startup visa—offers the best option for founders to live and work in the US. Since immigration causes innovation, we’re thrilled about the possibility of this new status, for foreign founders which is scheduled  to take effect in this summer.

The Obama administration began implementing the highly anticipated International Entrepreneur Rule before it left office. However, the Trump administration froze the rule along with all other new and pending regulations from the Obama administration.

Still, the Trump administration may be amenable to the rule. President Trump has touted merit-based immigration, which gives preference to skilled immigrants who benefit the national interest—an aim similar to that of the International Entrepreneur Rule. If the Trump administration retains the rule, it may go into effect in the fall.

Qualifying for Parole

To qualify for parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule as currently written, entrepreneurs must:

  • Have at least a 10% ownership interest in a qualifying startup at the time of the first parole application.
  • Must actively operate the startup.
  • Must maintain a household income of at least 400% of the federal poverty level. An individual must maintain an annual income of at least $47,520. A family of four would need at least $97,200.
A qualified startup must:

  • Be created within five years of applying for parole or within five years of receiving an investment or government grant.
  • Receive at least $250,000 in qualified investments or at least $100,000 in government awards or grants within the past 18 months.
  • Show alternative evidence of growth and job creation potential if it does not fully meet the monetary requirement.


A qualified investment must be from:

  • A U.S. citizen, permanent resident of the U.S., or U.S. majority owned and operated entity. It cannot come from an immediate family member or an entity owned by a family member.
  • An investor that regularly invests in startups and has not committed any securities violations.
  • An investor that invested more than $600,000 in startups in the past five years.
  • An entity whose past investment in at least two startups yielded the creation of at least five full-time jobs for Americans or generated at least $500,000 in revenue and at least 20% average annual growth.

Extending the Status

Parole can be extended to the spouse and children of immigrant entrepreneurs who receive parole. Moreover, paroled spouses could apply for a work permit—a rarity under most visa categories.

If USCIS grants parole, the entrepreneur may stay initially up to 30 months and apply for a 30-month extension. For an extension, the entrepreneur must show the startup continues to provide a significant public benefit by meeting any of the following:

  • Receiving at least $500,000 in qualifying investments, grants or award.
  • Creating at least five full-time jobs.
  • Generating at least $500,000 in annual revenue and 20% average annual growth.

An entrepreneur must maintain at least a 5% ownership interest in the startup for parole renewal. Parole will be terminated if the entrepreneur is no longer employed by the startup or no longer has an ownership interest.

Contact Us

The International Entrepreneur Rule is the brightest immigration hope right now for many startup founders. Our team would be happy to help you find the best visa and green card options for yourself, your family or your colleagues. Contact the Alcorn Immigration Law.


Sophie Alcorn
Entrepreneur and Immigration Attorney
Alcorn Immigration Law

Sophie Alcorn stands for immigration causing innovation.  She is a Stanford-educated, New York Times-featured expert on U.S. Immigration Law. She founded Alcorn Immigration Law, Silicon Valley's premier immigration and nationality law firm, in 2015. Sophie and her team obtain visas and green cards for highly-motivated individuals to build innovative companies in Silicon Valley, successfully handling hundreds of immigration cases for investors, established and venture-backed corporations, founders, and families.

This article is not legal advice.

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