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Can a H1B holder work for a startup as a co-founder?

I assume this means that this would be your primary job. Based on recent cases, USCIS seems to have taken the position that H1B visa holders cannot work for a company in which they have a majority interest. Generally, USCIS’s reasoning for denying such cases is that the required employer-employee relationship does not exist – i.e. there’s no independent person who supervises the H1B employee, hires or fires the H1B employee, or who generally controls his/her work. There are other options available if you seriously want to start and work for your own company, but, unfortunately, doing it as an H1B visa holder with majority interest will likely be unsuccessful. It is permissible, however, to invest in a company without working for it and still collect dividends.

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