DO I NEED A VISA TO START A U.S. BUSINESS?

No – you can start and own a U.S. business without an active visa status. Visa status is not required as long as you are a passive owner, as in buying stock or owning real estate.

CAN I STAY IN THE U.S. FOR MY BUSINESS?

In order to stay in the U.S. to run a business, you will need legal status.

If you are a student in F-1 status you must have work authorization to be employed at the business. Optional practical training (OPT), the period immediately following graduation, is the most flexible time of F-1 status. After your OPT ends, you will need to find another status to remain the U.S. for the business.

More information on STEM OPT extensions is available on the NAFSA website.

CAN I PAY MYSELF THROUGH MY BUSINESS?

You can only pay yourself if you are authorized for employment by USCIS. In most situations, it makes sense to keep up a series of temporary visas until an opportunity for permanent residence arises.

Our website offers an overview of unauthorized employment here.

ARE THERE OTHER TEMPORARY VISA OPTIONS FOR ENTREPRENEURS?

The following visas may be available to entrepreneurs: