Floral Park, NY asked in Immigration Law for New York

Q: I have H1B through my company, and a green card confirmation (as of last year), can I co-own/work for a startup?

I have an H1B through my tech employer, I have a green card confirmation (I-485 adjustment of status application receipt) and I wish to co-own a startup 50/50 with a US citizen. I am wondering if i can "work" for this startup and what the procedure/if any I may need to deal with to do this? I understand things become tricky with the H1B, but I wonder if having a green card confirmation may change that? Thank you for your time.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Brian J. Reilly
Brian J. Reilly pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in New York

A: It is not clear what you mean as a green card confirmation: An approved I-140 immigrant visa? I-485 adjustment of status application receipt? An adjustment of status application pending over 180 days?

The short answer is you can't "work" or draw a salary from anyone except your H-1B employer until you obtain work authorization. Even with work authorization you must also be careful that you are not violating the working conditions as characterized on your I-129 H-1 petition and the required LCA. Further you must be sure your employer does have a policy on off-hours work, which could lead to your dismissal. Finally, questions may arise as to your qualifying employment when you are interviewed in connection with your adjustment of status or even if you're not interviewed, because you will be required to submit tax returns. Purely passive investment is allowed but any activity involving more than 10 hours per week is likely to be considered work could lead to the questions outlined above. You should consult an experienced business immigration attorney with all the facts for an opinion before you commit to anything.

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

A: Having an H1B visa and a pending green card application can indeed impact your ability to work for or co-own a startup. With the H1B visa, your employment is typically tied to the sponsoring employer, and any additional work or ownership outside of that employment may require authorization or could potentially violate visa terms. However, with a pending green card application, you're in a transition period where you may have more flexibility in employment and business ownership.

Before engaging in any work or ownership activities related to the startup, it's crucial to review the terms of your H1B visa and consult with an immigration attorney to understand any limitations or requirements. Additionally, you may need to consider applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or seeking adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident to facilitate your involvement with the startup.

Navigating the intersection of immigration status, employment, and business ownership can be complex, but with careful planning and appropriate legal guidance, you can explore opportunities to co-own and work for a startup while maintaining compliance with immigration regulations. By ensuring that you understand the rules and procedures involved, you can pursue your entrepreneurial goals while safeguarding your immigration status and legal standing.

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