Dear Sophie: Does International Entrepreneur Parole have any advantages over an O-1 visa?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

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Dear Sophie,

Are there any advantages to International Entrepreneur Parole over an O-1 visa?

IEP seems to require $250,000 in institutional backing — so getting an O-1A doesn’t seem like a huge reach from there.

I feel like the O-1A has many more advantages as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

— Eager Entrepreneur

Dear Eager,

What a great question!

International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) is the next best thing to a startup visa; its qualifying requirements are similar to the startup visa that I personally helped draft for Rep. Zoe Lofgren! This newly proposed startup visa is currently under consideration for inclusion in congressional legislation to increase U.S. global competitiveness.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Until a new startup visa is approved, here are the main advantages — and disadvantages — of IEP and how it stacks up against the O-1A visa for extraordinary ability:

Qualifying for IEP and O-1A

You mentioned one of the criteria to qualify for IEP is to receive at least $250,000 from investors. That figure increased to $264,147 at the start of the new federal fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2021 and is scheduled to adjust again in 2024. For your planning, the minimum investment and revenue amounts under IEP are adjusted according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers — these adjustments occur every three years. Here are the criteria you would need to meet to qualify for IEP:

  • Your startup is less than five years old.
  • You own at least 10%.

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