Biden Administration Resurrects Immigrant Entrepreneur Program


The Obama-era program allows immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the United States and start their businesses

May 10, 2021


The Biden administration announced Monday it would resurrect an Obama-era program that would allow more immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the United States and start their businesses.

The International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), first introduced by President Obama in 2017, permits foreign entrepreneurs to stay in the United States for up to five years as long as they own at least 10 percent of a startup and attract at least $250,000 from U.S. investors.

The Trump administration suspended the policy before it took effect, in part due to the rule’s “parole” benefit, which is typically used for humanitarian reasons.

The technology sector, which relies heavily on foreign-born talent, has long been supportive of the program. In 2018, nearly half of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, and immigrants have helped create one in four small businesses or startups. Immigrants start 20 percent of all companies in seven of the eight fastest-growing sectors in the United States, including retail and construction.

“Immigrants in the United States have a long history of entrepreneurship, hard work, and creativity, and their contributions to this nation are incredibly valuable,” said Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Tracy Renaud. “The International Entrepreneur parole program goes hand-in-hand with our nation’s spirit of welcoming entrepreneurship and USCIS encourages those who are eligible to take advantage of the program.”

According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates, roughly 2,940 immigrants would come to the United States each year through the IER program, with the potential to create one million U.S. jobs within the next 10 years.

“The International Entrepreneur Rule is a long-overdue immigration pathway for startup founders,” said Doug Rand, Boundless co-founder who helped create the program while an advisor to Obama.” This regulation was finalized three days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, survived several near-death experiences over the next four years, and is now poised to become part of President Biden’s efforts to grow the economy and build back better. I’m so glad that, four years ago, we burned the midnight oil to finish this midnight regulation, whose time has finally come.”

For more information, please see the Boundless guide to the IER program, and learn more about the critical role immigrant entrepreneurs play as job creators in the United States.


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