Can I start a company if I’m in the US on an F-1 Student Visa?

The answer to this question is yes – kinda. Because you are on an F-1 student visa, your employment options are very limited. That does not stop you from starting a company but it does stop you from working for that company. In general, you may work ON a company, but you can not work FOR that company.

The distinction between working on a company and for a company can be a little confusing. Working ON the company basically means creating it and working FOR the company basically means being an employee of the company.

Working ON a company involves things like:

  • Creating a business plan
  • Developing the business
  • Investing in the business

Working FOR a company involves things like:

  • Day to day operations
  • Taking a salary
  • Sales, marketing, accounting, etc.

If you do plan to start a business while on an F-1 Visa, it would help to recruit some US citizen partners that can handle your day to day activities until you are able to work for the company if you adjust your status after you graduate from school.

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