Can an F1 Student Start a Business in the US?

Can an F1 student start business in the US?

If you are going to school on an F1 visa, you may be wondering the following: How can an F1 student start a business in the US? Can he or she actually set up a company? You probably think this is a good idea, as it will help you make extra cash.

The answer to the above questions is “Yes!” I can help you make this happen, as you will need assistance from an experienced business legal advisor. 

Contact me by email at for further details. I will be happy to get you started on this profitable journey. Business lawyers are all for helping entrepreneurs, regardless of their current status, so the following information will help you prepare for this type of journey.

Carefully read the article below. It will help you learn the basics of how you can apply your skills and use them to the best advantage. 

You just need to find out how you can make this happen, given your current status. To be blunt, visa rules in the US are not always immigrant-friendly for entrepreneurs. It can be difficult to get approved for a visa, particularly if you have an idea for a business and want to begin and work for yourself. 

However, don’t get downhearted, yet. As long as you understand the legalities, you can proceed with your plans. Thinking about being an entrepreneur is different from engaging in your own start-up. F1 students cannot be self-employed and work in their own company. However, the visa rules for F1 students do allow them to invest in a company without becoming involved in day-to-day operations. 

Therefore, you can actually form a partnership and have the other partner run the business while you invest in the company. Doing so will help you comply with F1 visa rules, as you are investing in a business, and not working for it. I can help you set up a business entity to make this happen. Again, you just need to contact me at for all the details.


Can an F1 Student Start a Business in the US as a Limited Partner?

This may lead you to wonder, “Can an F1 student start a business in the US as a limited partner?” The answer is “yes, this is possible.”  If you start a partnership, your role would be one of the limited partners while the other person would serve as a general partner. General partners can manage the business while limited partners contribute to the capital. Limited partners cannot participate in day-to-day operations. 

However, don’t the various types of partners with different kinds of partnerships. Partnerships may be formed as a general partnership (which only features general partners); a limited partnership (comprised of general partners and limited partners); or a limited liability partnership (LLP) (comprised only of limited partners). All the partners in an LLP possess limited liability. This type of entity is similar to a limited liability company (LLC).

Even if you think you can begin a business without paying yourself, you cannot take that approach. If the job could be done by another person, who would not do the work without remuneration, it will not count. 

Nevertheless, you can invest in shares of stock while holding an F1 visa, or serve as a limited partner in a company. Just don’t begin a business and actively engage in daily operations.


Can an F1 Student Start a Business in the US through One of a School’s Training Programs?

The above information, though, is not conclusive. If you want to know the following – “Can an F1 student start a business in the US through one of the educational training programs?”  the answer is “yes, it is possible.” You just have to make sure you are following the law.

Also, remember, immigration and visa laws are subject to change, so you need to keep up-to-date on these laws, especially if you are a student. For example, the US Department of Homeland Security says that starting a business in the US is work. It adds that any F1 student who wishes to begin a US business must apply for OPT to qualify. The employment in OPT must be directly associated with the applicant’s main field of study.


Why You Should Obtain a Work Authorization as a Student?

After your first year of academic study, you can work off-campus for an employer, provided you have an employment authorization to do so. This authorization allows you to participate in a program, such as curricular practical training (CPT) or optional practical training (OPT). OPT is the program most often chosen by international students.

In terms of US immigration rules, you will need to go through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, or SEVP if you plan to take part in OPT. According to the government, OPT would be the proper venue to choose for beginning a business. OPT may be used on a part-time basis while school is in session, or full-time when school is not in session. However, all this can become quite complicated if you are not fully apprised of the immigration rules.

For example, if you are involved in the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the STEM OPT cannot be used for entrepreneurship, as you are not allowed to be your own employer. However, if your company makes profits, it may be able to sponsor you for another visa – this time the H-1B visa. 

The H-1B visa permits a student to work for his or her company after participating in OPT for one year. To qualify for this visa, you need to possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in the area associated with the position. 

It is always acceptable legally for a person from another country to create or buy shares of a business, to purchase property, or register a business in the US. You do not have to be in the US to purchase real estate or register a business. No limitations are placed on who can own real property in the US.

However, you cannot work in the US as an F1 student unless you have work authorization. In this case, the authorization would be working under OPT or the optional practical training program. While you cannot work in the US – not even for your own business, you can still create a company and apply for OPT, as long as you work at least 20 hours per week and the work is related to your course of study.


Make Sure Your Business Role Remains Passive

You will need to hire someone to manage the business you form, as you cannot work and study in the above capacity without help. For the most part, you can have a company, as long as your role remains passive. For instance, if you start a partnership, you can serve as a limited partner or someone who contributes to the business capital.

By remaining passive, you can safely start a business without too much difficulty. You cannot serve as a working partner, as you would actively be engaging in the business. Again, your role should remain passive when you are an F1 student.


What To Do Next

If you still have questions after wondering the following – “How can an F1 student start a business in the US?” that is understandable. That is where I can help. Contact me at to get all the details for beginning a business as an F1 student while complying with the law.

You can make your business dreams happen. You just need to know what steps to take and what to do to avoid legal problems. You should always rely on a business lawyer’s expertise to help you in this area. You are not alone. You can get the business support you need.

Make sure you have a legal anchor, so you can stay afloat legally and financially. Again, email me at so we can figure out a way to get your F1 business of the ground. I look forward to working with you to establish your company and turn your dream into reality.

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