Can I run a company on a F-1 visa?

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Can I run a company on a F-1 visa?

First of all I’m an international student with a F-1 student visa. I want to start a small internet based company (LLC) here in California, and have my friend who is an American help me run it. I know that I can legally start and own a business here in the US, but I can’t earn any income. Therefore I wonder if I can collect yearly dividends? Can I do any work in the company? Can hire myself as an intern or something, or can I work but still not earn any income?

Asked on April 30, 2012 under Business Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a non-United States citizen in this country under a student visa F-1, you cannot work for pay unless you get express authorization from INS in writing to do so.

However, if you are legally in this country, you can start a business legally and own it but you would still be confined from earning any income with respect to it under your visa status which would include dividends. You can work for the company as an intern most likely subject to express written INS approval and not pay yourself any wages.

I suggest that you consult further with an immigration attorney to assist you in getting concessions from the INS with respect to your student visa so that you can earn some semblance of income from the business that you want to start up and not run afoul of your visa.


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