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I’m on a F1 visa (student) from India living in the Silicon Valley, and someone wants to me to join their early startup for equity. How can I participate in this without causing any legal issues?

As you’re seemingly aware, there are some strict rules in place when it comes to F-1 visa holders and employment status. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You are unable to work off-campus during your first year academic of F-1 status.
  • After the first year, you can work off-campus under one of the following scenarios:
    • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    • Optical Practical Training (OPT)
    • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM

However, the above only answers part of your question. Essentially, while you are under F-1 status you are unable to work for your company unless it is directly related to your field of study in which case you can be classified as OPT. You must also be in OPT status before you can start your company.

You want to be sure that you follow the proper guidelines so that you don’t step outside the requirements for your visa, but can also continue with your business endeavors. An immigration attorney can help make sure that you don’t make any missteps in the process.

We can help. LawTrades offers access to top immigration attorneys that can help you dissect the visa process and ensure you are doing everything within the confines of the law. Our professionals provide quality legal services at an affordable rate and for your convenience, we extend flexible payment options. Contact us to start your free consultation.


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