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Can a Non-Us Citizen Start a Business in the U.S.?

How can a non-US citizen start a small business in the US?

Neither US citizenship nor residency is required to start a small business in the United States. Some small business opportunities may allow you to reside in the United States if you qualify for an L-1 or E-2 visa. Which one of these visas depends greatly on your country of origin and type of company you are looking to start.

Can I start a company while in H1B?

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.

Is it easier for international students or H1B workers to create a startup?

It is easier for an international student to startup a company than an H1B visa holder if the student gets an Optional Practical Training (OPT) work permit after graduation, since OPT holders are permitted to startup their own companies. It is relatively straightforward and the OPT worker is not restricted by the Department of Labor’s or USCIS’s many rules that apply to H1B workers. In comparison, therefore, it is more difficult to startup a company as an H1B visa holder.

How can I move to Silicon Valley to create or work at a startup if I'm not a US citizen?

The two visas that can be used to start a business in the U.S. are the E visa and the L1 visa. The E1 treaty trader visa allows individuals from E1 treaty countries to enter the U.S. for the purpose of carrying out “substantial” trade between the individual’s country and the U.S. The E2 visa allows individuals from E2 treaty countries to enter the U.S. for the purpose of investing a “substantial” amount of capital in an enterprise (including purchasing a new business). For the list of current E1 and E2 treaty countries, please visit http://travel.state.gov/visa/fee….

The L1 intracompany transfer visa allows individuals to enter the U.S. to open a new office of a foreign corporation. To qualify, the individual must be an executive, manager or a “specialized” knowledge worker, and must have worked for the corporation for at least one year out of the last three years.

I currently work on H1B for my employer, and my AOS (I-485) is pending, priority date is current and I’ve already got my EAD. Can I start my own company in USA now? Or should I wait until my green card is approved?

Usually, it’s recommended that people in your situation stay working on their H1B visa until their AOS application has been approved. If you start working on your EAD, then you’ll no longer be in H1B visa status. The problem arises if your AOS application is denied for some reason. In such an instance, you don’t have a valid visa status by which to remain in the U.S. Having an EAD card on its own doesn’t give you status to remain in the U.S. and, with no H1B visa (or other type of visa), you’ll have to leave the U.S. I recommend you ask your immigration lawyer whether or not you should start working with your EAD.

If you have any further questions about being a non us citizen small business owner, please feel free to contact us and we can help you out.

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