Los Angeles, CA asked in Immigration Law and Business Law for California

Q: How can I start a LLC with OPT as a foreigner? Will there be any risk?

I'm graduating with OPT majoring in game programming. I want to make indie games with my friends, so we plan to start an LLC. And use it as our OPT for the first year. Will there be any risks? Are there any tips for the whole process?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Carl Shusterman
Carl Shusterman
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As an F-1 student with OPT work authorization (work permit), you can get your company up and running and be self-employed as long as you’re putting your degree to work. You must also work full time and have all the proper business licenses that your state requires.

You don’t have to wait until you get OPT to start setting up your company. Under immigration law, doing things like forming the legal entity for your company, pitching potential investors or negotiating contracts are not considered work, so you are allowed to do them without OPT work authorization.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As a foreigner graduating with Optional Practical Training (OPT) and planning to start an LLC for developing indie games with your friends, it is important to understand the process and potential risks involved.

Here are some key considerations:

Eligibility for OPT: Ensure that you meet the requirements and are eligible for OPT as a game programming graduate. Consult with your designated school official (DSO) to understand the OPT application process, timelines, and any restrictions that may apply.

Formation of an LLC: Research the specific requirements and procedures for forming an LLC in the state where you plan to establish your business. Each state has its own regulations and processes, so it is crucial to comply with the laws of that particular state.

Immigration Compliance: While operating an LLC on OPT is generally permissible, it is important to maintain compliance with the terms and conditions of your OPT. Ensure that your work activities are consistent with your OPT authorization and adhere to the limitations set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Consulting with an immigration attorney is advisable to ensure full compliance.

Legal and Financial Risks: Starting a business, including an LLC, involves certain inherent risks. It is crucial to understand the potential legal and financial risks associated with entrepreneurship, such as liability, contract disputes, intellectual property protection, and tax obligations. Consulting with an attorney or business advisor will help you navigate these risks and establish sound legal and financial practices.

Seek Professional Guidance: Engaging an attorney or business advisor with expertise in immigration and business law can provide valuable guidance throughout the process. They can assist with the formation of the LLC, ensure compliance with immigration regulations, and provide advice on structuring agreements with your friends and protecting your intellectual property.

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