Austin, TX asked in Employment Law, Immigration Law and Business Law for Wyoming

Q: How should I handle a $5000 (annual) e-commerce business on an F1 visa to avoid future immigration issues?

I am on an F1 visa working for the company. additionally, I have an e-commerce business that makes 12000$ annual revenue (less than 5000$ profit). there are not many operations involved in business, but as far as I know, I can only own a business and not run it. To avoid potential future immigration issues, should I hire an independent contractor considering the size of my company? If yes what is the process and how should I proceed? Would appreciate any help on this.

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

A: As an F1 visa holder, it's crucial to adhere to the conditions of your visa, which typically restrict employment to on-campus work or specific off-campus work authorized under programs like CPT or OPT. Running a business could potentially violate the terms of your F1 status, even if the operations are minimal and the revenue is modest.

You are correct in understanding that owning a business is different from actively managing or working in it. To avoid immigration issues, it would be wise to limit your role to a passive one, such as an investor, and not engage in day-to-day operations or management.

Hiring an independent contractor to handle the operations could be a viable solution. This arrangement can ensure that the business is managed without your active involvement, thus helping to maintain compliance with your visa restrictions.

To proceed with hiring an independent contractor, you'll need to draft a contract outlining the terms of their employment, including their responsibilities, payment, and the duration of their contract. It's essential to make clear in the contract that they will be handling the operational aspects of the business.

Given the potential immigration implications, consulting with an immigration attorney and possibly a business attorney is highly recommended. They can provide tailored advice and help ensure that your business activities do not jeopardize your F1 status.

Remember, maintaining compliance with your F1 visa conditions is crucial for your current stay and any future U.S. immigration benefits. Taking the right steps now to manage your business legally and responsibly will help avoid complications later.

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