Yes, you could have founder stocks as a non-resident with an H-1B. However, there are some potential legal issues that you could get snared up in:
- H-1B visas are issued to employees of a company. If you wanted to work for the new business part or full time, you would violate your H-1B. If someone with an H-1B wants to change employers, the new employer must first petition for an H-1B on behalf of the employee. If your company has other founders and if the majority are United States citizens, maybe they should talk with an immigration lawyer to determine if the business would qualify to petition for an H-1B on your behalf.
- You can only work for your current employer on your H-1B. As mentioned by others, you cannot work for the business. If you work for any business, even your own, you are in violation of your visa.
Remember that if you are found to be in violation of your H-1B, you could lose your status, be deported, and you could be banned from returning to the United States. So, make sure that you do not work for the business where you’ll own the stocks…not even part time.
If you or any other co-founders would like to talk with an immigration attorney about this issue, consider. We’re a legal marketplace designed for entrepreneurs around the world. Our platform makes it more efficient and affordable to receive legal services from a top attorney. We also a service – called that gives you the ability to ask an experienced attorney a specific question for a low flat-rate (usually $25) and you’ll get an answer within 48 hours. Hope this helps!