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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My co-founders and I think we might qualify for International Entrepreneur Parole.
How long does it take to get IEP approved? How does that compare to other options that are available to startup founders, and can my spouse work?
— Committed COO
Great questions! With Thanksgiving in the United States tomorrow, I’m reflecting on how appreciative I am of you and everyone who submits questions to this column, wherever you are in the world!
My law partner Anita Koumriqian and I recently chatted on our Thanksgiving gratitude podcast episode about all the things we appreciate about U.S. immigration in 2021, including how grateful we are that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this year that it would continue the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program. (In May, USCIS under the Biden administration announced it was rescinding a proposal created by the previous administration that would have ended the IEP program.)
I recommend that you consult an immigration attorney who has experience filing IEP applications. Remember, only up to three individuals from the same startup can get IEP. Take a look at these previous Dear Sophie columns in which I discuss the qualifications for IEP and the IEP process. An immigration attorney will also be able to offer alternative options and steps to take based on the unique needs and situations of you and your leadership team.
Timing is still an unknown
The time it takes USCIS to process IEP applications remains uncertain for now, but we are still fervently advocating for anyone who may be eligible to take this path.
USCIS began processing IEP cases just this year, and it does not offer an estimate on processing times for Form I-941, the application for IEP, on its Case Processing Times webpage.