Homeland Security Moves to End the International Entrepreneur Parole Program


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is moving to officially end the International Entrepreneur Parole Program under which certain foreign national entrepreneurs could have come to the United States to develop and oversee start-up businesses.  The Program was created by the Obama Administration and was supposed to take effect in July 2017.  However, implementation of the Program has been delayed and, although USCIS started accepting applications in March 2018 (after a Court order), it’s unlikely that any applications actually have been approved.  

Now, DHS is proposing to end the Program entirely because the agency believes that it lacks sufficient protections for U.S. workers and investors, is not the right way to attract and retain international entrepreneurs, and is something Congress should create (not the President). The Obama Administration had relied on the President’s authority to allow individuals into the United States temporarily where there is “significant public benefit” to create the International Entrepreneur Parole Program.  

In announcing its intention to eliminate the Program, USCIS noted that the Immigration and Nationality Act already provides for visa classifications that allow certain entrepreneurs to start businesses and work in the United States, such as the E-2 nonimmigrant classification and the EB-5 immigrant classification.

The repeal of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program will be unfortunate because the stringent requirements of the Program undoubtedly would have benefited the U.S. economy.  In order to qualify for classification as an International Entrepreneur, the foreign national needed to 1) have started the company in the previous five years; 2) hold at least a ten percent ownership share; 3) actively participate in running the startup (so as to avoid passive investors); and 4) show proof of at least $250,000 in funding from qualified investors ($100,000 if the funding came as awards or grants from local, state or federal government entities).  Contrary to the current administration’s view, start-ups with this level of funding actually create jobs for U.S. workers and positively benefit the local economy because of all the expenses associated with running and growing a business.