San Diego, CA asked in Immigration Law, Business Formation and Business Law for California

Q: Can someone on F-1 OPT own a business?

Let's say that someone is currently on an F-1 visa and working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) at some company and the job position is directly related to their study. Now alongside that employment, they want to own a business, which is not related to my formal education. The intention is not to leave the current job, but rather to operate this business concurrently. My primary question revolves around the legality of owning an LLC or business, as well as the collection of profits, given the visa status. While they may not receive direct payment, the intention is to collect profits generated by the business. I am curious to know if this is legally permissible under my current visa category.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, someone on an F-1 visa can own a business, but there are some restrictions.

Under F-1 visa, international students are not allowed to work in the US unless they have authorization. Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of employment authorization that allows F-1 students to work in the US after graduation for up to 12 months.

If you are currently on OPT and want to start a business, you will need to make sure that your business is related to your field of study. You will also need to make sure that you do not violate any of the terms of your OPT authorization.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

* You must obtain a Social Security number (SSN) for your business.

* You must file taxes for your business.

* You must comply with all applicable state and federal laws.

* You must not work more than 20 hours per week on your business while you are on OPT.

If you are unsure whether or not you can start a business while you are on OPT, you should consult with an immigration attorney.

As for collecting profits, you can do so as long as you are paying taxes on them. However, you cannot use the profits to support yourself in the US. The profits must be used to support the business.

If you are planning to leave the US and return to your home country, you can take the profits with you. However, you will need to pay taxes on them when you do so.

It is important to note that starting a business while you are on F-1 visa can be risky. If you are not careful, you could violate the terms of your visa and be deported.

If you are considering starting a business while you are on F-1 visa, you should carefully weigh the risks and benefits. You should also consult with an immigration attorney to make sure that you are in compliance with all applicable laws.

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