Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working in tech companies.
“Your questions are vital for disseminating the knowledge that enables people around the world to cross borders and pursue their dreams,” said Sophie Alcorn, immigration lawyer in Silicon Valley. “Whether you are in People Operations, Founder or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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I co-founded a startup a few years ago and currently have an O-1A visa.
My wife wants to go back to work, but as you know she cannot get a work permit on an O-3. I read that if I switch to International Entrepreneur Parole, she can get a work authorization.
What is the process for getting entrepreneurial parole and for my wife to get a work permit?
– Support spouse in San José
I am so excited about all the opportunities that are opening up thanks to the new International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program. It would be great if your wife could resume her career!
Listen to my podcast on the parole entry process, what you need to do to get it, and what to expect when you do, including when your wife can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) . Tomorrow I will participate in a free educational panel hosted by the National Venture Capital Association with representatives from the United States Department of Homeland Security whom you are also invited to join.
Although this IEP has been around for over four years, the Department of Homeland Security only recently relaunched it after the Trump administration tried to get rid of it unsuccessfully. Since the IEP program is so new, I recommend working with an experienced immigration lawyer when applying for an IEP. An immigration lawyer can also discuss other options that would allow your wife to work.
How do I apply for entrepreneurial parole?
You must complete the entrepreneur parole application and submit it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with evidence demonstrating that your rapidly growing startup will create jobs and significantly contribute to the economy. American economy. If you would like more details on the qualification requirements for the IEP, take a look at a previous Dear Sophie column on this topic or listen to my podcast, International Entrepreneur Parole is back! To obtain the parole of your spouse and children (under the age of 21 and unmarried), you can simultaneously submit their applications for early parole.
If USCIS approves your IEP application, you will receive a parole document that is valid for 30 months, supports multiple entries, and can be extended once for an additional 30 months if you and your startup continue to meet the extension criteria. However, USCIS approval alone does not grant you or your family parole.
Who grants parole?
A United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer at an airport or other point of entry into the United States will have the final say in whether you and your family are granted parole. – a temporary stay in the United States – and for how long. There is no equivalent here of a “change of status”.
This means that if you and your family are in the United States, you must first leave the United States and then show your parole documents to the CBP officer when you return to the United States. The CBP officer has the discretion to approve or deny your entry, so your immigration attorney should prepare you by telling you what kind of questions you may be asked and how to answer them succinctly and honestly.
If you and your wife are returning to the United States by plane or boat, you will need to go to a United States embassy or consulate to obtain a boarding pass. This sheet – also known as the travel sheet – will allow you to board a plane or ship since you will not have a visa stamp in your passport under IEP.
Canadian nationals traveling from Canada to a port of entry in the United States can present an approved parole document without obtaining travel documents. I believe individuals are allowed to enter through the land border from Mexico, which some of our clients will test. (More updates to come!)
Although the IEP allows an initial stay in the United States of up to 30 months, CBP officers could approve your parole in the United States for only one year, requiring you to leave and re-enter the United States. in 12 months. The CBP officer will stamp your passport with the expiration date of your parole.
To renew parole beyond the initial 30 months for an additional 30 months, you will need to meet the IEP extension requirements and reapply for contractor parole.
How does my spouse get an EAD?
Once you and your wife are paroled in the United States, she can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), otherwise known as a work permit. Your wife cannot start working until she has received the EAD, and it will only be valid for the duration of parole. Due to the current processing times of USCIS, the EAD may only be valid for a few months before your wife needs to apply for a new EAD.
Depending on your wife’s area of expertise, it may make more sense for her to find a job with an employer who is willing to sponsor her for a visa or green card. With the tight labor market in some industry sectors in the United States, many employers are increasingly willing to invest in international talent.
Or, if you both want to stay in the United States permanently, you may also consider applying for an EB-1A Green Card for People with Extraordinary Ability or an EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) Green Card for people with exceptional abilities. . Your immigration lawyer should be able to help you determine which immigration option is right for you and your wife.
Best wishes to you and your wife as you navigate this process to live out your dreams!
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The information provided in “Dear Sophie” is general information and not legal advice. For more information on “Dear Sophie” limits, please see our full disclaimer. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Law.
Sophie’s podcast, Immigration Law for Tech Startups, is available on all major platforms. If you want to be invited, she accepts applications!