Can An International Student Start A Business In The USA?

Would you like to start your own business in the USA? Many people dream of doing so but are often discouraged by the visa process. This is especially true for international students who want to stay and work in America after graduation.

International Students can own a business in the USA on a CPT, OPT or H1-B visa. Owning a business is not allowed on the F-1 student visa that most international students studying in the USA have. F-1 students may, however, invest in a business and enjoy its returns provided they pay income tax returns.

A student with an OPT visa may own a business in a field related to his study for a period of one year, after which he will have to leave the country and return on an H1-B visa for 3 years and then extend it for a period of 6 years. After this, the H1-B visa holder becomes eligible to apply for a green card.

The good news is that there are many different options available for international students who want to start a business in this country!

Eligibility for International Students To Start a Business in the USA

Most international students in the USA are on an F-1 student visa. As per the law, students on an F-1 visa are not allowed to run their own businesses. However, a student on an F-1 visa may contribute to the establishment of the business. Once the business is established, an F-1 visa holder cannot actually run the profitable business. F-1 visa holders are forbidden from even working without pay or volunteering for such businesses.

Students who have been granted F1 or international student visas, for example, can get investment returns from their company without actually being a part of its management.

Immigration law allows international students i.e F1 visa students to invest in their own firm and receive dividends, provided they file income tax returns.

Legal Considerations for Owning a Business in the USA for International Students

There are multiple ways to legally own a business in the USA.

To legally own a business in the USA, an international student must have one of the following visas or legal status:

  1. CPT (Curricular Practical Training)
  2. OPT (Optional Practical Training)
  3. H1-B
  4. Green Card

Let’s consider each of these options in detail.

CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

CPT is a temporary work authorization that allows international students to get real-world experience related to their field of study. It’s granted for up to 12 months and can be extended while doing STEM courses. If you are planning your career after graduation, it’s important to consider the fact that CPT does not provide any work authorization after your studies are over.

OPT (Optional Practical Training)

OPT is a temporary employment permit given only to international students who have completed their graduation in the USA. It allows you to get practical training during or immediately after college, directly related to your major. It’s available for up to 12 months and can be extended, provided you are in valid immigration status or an F-series visa i.e OPT/CPT holder at the time of filing extension applications.

H1-B Visa (Hiring Base)

An H-B visa is often issued to international students for speciality occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge. H-B visa holders can reside in the USA as long as their employment continues.

Green Card (Permanent Residency)

The most common way students get involved with business is by investing money into it or setting up a company with friends. If you are an international student looking for this option, then note that there is no work permit issued along with the Green Card. You can operate as a US citizen and run a business just like every other American.

The good news is that it’s fairly easy to start a business in the USA as an international student! All it takes is some research and planning on your part so take action today by exploring all the options available to you!

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