F1 students on OPT may be eligible to qualify as self-employed business owners if the business relates directly to your studies. In addition, you must be able to obtain any required business licenses. You can read more about current US rules and regulations relating to improving and expanding training opportunities for F1 students with STEM degrees.
In the most general of terms, F1 students are prohibited from ‘engaging in business.’ At the same time, students on F1 visa are not expressly forbidden from ‘establishing’ their own business since they are allowed to engage in ‘preliminary business planning.’
Again, it’s impossible to overstate that there’s a sharp legal difference between ‘establishing’ a business and ‘engaging’ with or working for it. The usual rule is that an F1 student is forbidden from working for a company – even one s/he starts.
As I’ve described, there are some status modifications an F1 student can make that would allow him or her to work for a business they established. The CPT work authorization mentioned above is one way; the other is OPT, also previously mentioned.
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