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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Both my co-founder and I have E-2 status. We need to find a quick visa option because a VC investment will dilute our equity, and we will no longer be eligible for the E-2.
We are looking at International Entrepreneur Parole as an option since we would easily qualify based on the investment we’re expecting, but we’re concerned about timing.
I know IEP is a new option; how long is it taking? Can it be expedited? Should we consider alternatives?
Congratulations on your upcoming round! I’m still super excited that International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) can help founders come to the U.S. It also adds a lot of value while we’re waiting for Congress to pass the Startup Visa (check out my recent podcast on the potential new startup visa with my colleague Nadia Zaidi, an attorney at my firm and an expert in immigration law for startups).
However, recent experience demonstrates that getting IEP is anything but rapid.
So, how long will it take?
Premium processing — which usually guarantees U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will make a decision or issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) within 15 days for an additional fee – is currently not available for IEP cases.
Based on the numerous IEP cases we’ve filed for startup founders since the Biden administration officially resurrected the program last May, USCIS is taking at least six months to get to the point of reaching a Request for Evidence or, possibly, a decision. Taking the subsequent boarding foil process into account, it seems that entrepreneurs should allow a minimum of one year for the IEP process.