May 25, 2022

Here is another version From the “Dear Sophie” advice column, answering immigration questions about working in tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to spreading the knowledge that enables people around the world to rise above boundaries and achieve their dreams,” said Silicon Valley immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn. “Whether you’re in Human Resources, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’m happy to answer your questions in the next column.”

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dear Sophie,

My co-founder and I are E-2 status. We need to find a fast visa option as the VC investment will reduce our capital and we will no longer be able to qualify for the E-2.

We are considering International Business Parole as an option as we will be able to easily qualify based on expected investment and it seems to be easier than O-1A.

How long does an IEP last? How can we speed up?

— Tej Udaan, Founder

Dear fastflying,

Congratulations on funding your future! I am thrilled that the International Entrepreneur Parole (IEP) program can help people like you and your co-founders help your startup grow faster and create jobs in the United States. This is a great staging program until Congress approves the starter visa.

My fellow lawyer Nadia Zaidi, a start-up immigration law expert, and I recently talked about IEPs on a podcast. Since the process is far from fast, it is still important to consider all available options.

So how long will it take?

Depending on the number of IEP cases we have filed since the Biden administration formally relaunched the program last May, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has at least six to eight months to make a decision. That’s why I teach entrepreneurs to dedicate at least one year to the normal IEP process.

Composite image of immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn with the gaming-updates logo in the background.

image credit: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

Please note that premium processing is not currently available for IEP cases. Available for other forms of visas, premium processing ensures that USCIS makes a decision or submits a Request for Evidence (RFE) within 15 days for an additional fee. The other main way to try to expedite the process is to submit a USCIS Expedite request for a serious financial loss to the company. Check with your attorney to see if you qualify.

I strongly believe that things like the lack of premium processing need to change. I’ve been working behind the scenes with other immigration lawyers and groups to get the immigration wave going – we’re advocating other reforms to make the IEP application process easier.

I’m proud to be part of last year’s human rights program that helped the US. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is requested to grant IEP beneficiaries a full 30 months of their first stay in the United States. Previously, CBP officials only allowed IEP recipients to stay in the country for 12 months. We learned that this was due to a defect in the agency’s computerized system, which mistakenly set the maximum stay at 12 months instead of 30 months.

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