United States: Entrepreneur Parole: The "Startup Visa" Solution

Last Updated: February 10 2017
Article by Ceridwen J. Koski

On January 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule in the Federal Register to "implement the Secretary of Homeland Security's discretionary parole authority in order to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States." The effective date of the "International Entrepreneur Rule" is July 17, 2017.

The final rule changes the proposed rule, which was published on August 26, 2016, and formalizes efforts to create a "start-up visa" as available  work visa options most commonly used by entrepreneurs pose significant drawbacks. Still, entrepreneur parole has limitations, as it is not a visa status, but it allows certain individuals to pursue qualifying business endeavors in the United States.

Entrepreneur Parole 

Parole is not an "admission" in nonimmigrant or immigrant visa status, but rather temporary permission to live and/or work in the United States. Congressional action would be required to create a new nonimmigrant visa for entrepreneurs. Under existing law, DHS is given the discretionary authority to grant parole on a case by-case basis for "significant public benefit." The term "significant public benefit" is undefined, but is generally used for aliens who enter to take part in legal proceedings. The ability to interpret "significant public benefit" at its discretion has allowed DHS to implement regulations to facilitate entrepreneurship that would provide a significant public benefit by increasing business growth in the United States.

The final rule is expected to encourage start-ups with the potential for high growth to pursue research and development, create job opportunities for U.S. workers, and increase business activity, innovation, and dynamism to benefit the U.S. economy. Additionally, the parole requirements are expected to form a transparent framework by which DHS will exercise its discretion on a case-by-case basis.

How to Qualify

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept immigration form I-941 and a $1,200 government filing fee, along with documentation supporting the required criteria as discussed below. Applicants would be able to apply from within the United States or abroad, and would be required to appear for a biometrics appointment adding a fee of $85 to the cost. Spouses and children would file dependent applications using form I-131 and paying the $575 and $85 biometrics fees. Approval of the first initial period of stay may be granted for up to 30 months (2.5 years) and will be based on the following criteria:

  • Formation of a new start-up entity. Qualifying entities must have been lawfully doing business in the United States and have been created within the five years immediately preceding the date of filing.
  • Entrepreneur. The applicant must be an entrepreneur who will advance the entity's business by:
  1. possessing at least a 10 percent ownership interest in the entity at the time of the adjudication of the initial grant of parole; and
  2. having an active role in the operation and future growth of the entity, such that his or her knowledge, skills, or experience would substantially assist the entity in conducting and growing its business in the United States. A mere investor is not eligible.
  • Investment. The applicant must show, through reliable supporting evidence, the entity's substantial potential for rapid growth, which may be demonstrated through:
  1. investment from established U.S. investors—i.e., the receipt of significant investment capital (at least $250,000) from certain qualified U.S. investors (such as venture capital firms, angel investors, or start-up accelerators) with records of successful investments and histories of substantial investment in successful start-up entities; or
  2. government grants—i.e., the receipt of funds from federal, state, or local government entities totaling at least $100,000; or
  3. partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria in addition to other reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity's substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

The evidence required to satisfy the criteria listed above will be reviewed and favorable discretion exercised on applications where "the applicant's parole would provide a significant public benefit, and the applicant merits a grant of parole as a matter of discretion." Recipients of such parole will be authorized for employment "incident to status," meaning that a separate application for work authorization will not be needed for the qualifying start-up. The entrepreneur's passport and I-94 record indicating entrepreneur parole will be acceptable evidence for employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) purposes. Temporary employment authorization will be provided during the application for re-parole. Parolee spouses may apply for employment authorization by filing form I-765. Parole may be revoked if the entity ceases operations or DHS determines parole no longer provides significant public benefit.


Extensions (re-parole) may be granted for up to 30 months (2.5 years) only if it is demonstrated that the entities have shown significant growth since the initial grant of parole and continue to have the potential for rapid growth and job creation.

  • Sustaining the start-up entity. The qualifying entity must have been lawfully operating in the United States and continue to have substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.
  • Entrepreneur. The applicant must submit evidence of the following:
  1. at least 5 percent ownership in the entity (this reduced ownership amount takes into consideration that entities raise funds by selling ownership interest); and
  2. an ongoing, active role in the operations and growth of the company.
  • Investment. The applicant must show through reliable supporting evidence, the entity's continued potential for rapid growth, which may be demonstrated through:
  1. investment or grants—i.e, the receipt of investment from U.S. investors with records of successful investments, or grants from U.S. government entities, or a combination of both investments and grants, of at least $500,000 of additional funding during the initial parole period; or
  2. revenue generation—i.e., the entity reached $500,000 in annual revenue with average annualized revenue growth of at least 20 percent during the initial parole period; or
  3. job creation—i.e., the entity created at least five full-time jobs during the initial parole period; or
  4. alternative criteria—i.e., partially satisfying one or more of the above criteria in addition to other reliable and compelling evidence of the start-up entity's substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

If re-paroled, the applicant's maximum period of granted parole will be five years.

Key Changes to the Proposed Rule

The final rule is similar to the proposed rule with a few key changes:

  • The minimum initial investment amount was reduced from $345,000 to $250,000.
  • The minimum ownership interest was reduced from 15 percent initially to 10 percent and, at re-parole, from 10 percent to 5 percent.
  • Investment may include securities that are convertible into equity issued by an entity that are commonly used in financing transactions within the entity's industry.
  • Qualified investors no longer are required to make investments in at least three separate calendar years within a five-year period totaling at least $1 million. The final rule removed the "three separate calendar years" requirement and reduced the $1 million minimum to $600,000. The final rule maintains the requirement that subsequent to the investment, at least two of the entities each created at least five qualified jobs or generated at least $500,000 in revenue with average annualized revenue growth of at least 20 percent.
  • The "recent creation of the start-up entity" period was changed from within the past three years to within the past five years immediately preceding the filing of the application.
  • The number of jobs created within the initial period of parole was reduced from 10 to 5 to qualify for re-parole.
  • DHS clarified that qualifying revenue must be generated in the United States.
  • Periods of parole and re-parole are 30 months each rather than 2 years and 3 years.
  • Material changes which must be reported to DHS include a "significant change with respect to ownership and control of the start-up entity."
  • Ownership interest may be reduced during the initial period of parole, but not below 5 percent.


Entrepreneurs may pursue nonimmigrant (e.g., O-1, L-1, and H-1B visas) and immigrant status (e.g., EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 visas) while in parole. However, because parole is not considered an admission, those individuals will need to process their applications at consulates outside of the United States rather than adjusting to permanent resident status or changing status in-country.

Applicants are required to maintain a household income of at least 400 percent of the federal poverty line. This threshold is intended to ensure that applicants continue to make "significant economic and related contributions to the United States." 

Only three entrepreneurs per start-up entity will be able to qualify and each applicant must meet the criteria individually.


The "start-up visa" concept is not new and was formally proposed by former senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar in 2010. DHS's entrepreneur parole is a solution with limitations, but it allows qualified investors and foreign entrepreneurs to develop business enterprises which have significant public benefit in the United States. Ogletree Deakins will continue to follow and report on developments related to entrepreneur parole and the International Entrepreneur Rule.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.