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Foreigner Starting A Business In USA

by JC, last updated: 2014-10-25 18:42 viewed 44227 times
This page is dedicated to folks who are foreigners but still ambitious enough to startup a business in USA. These questions and answers are just for reference only and should not be treated as legal advice.

1. What permissions do I need from USCIS to start my own business?

The simple answer is: None. As you know, USCIS is very concerned about immigrants working without proper authorization. However, USCIS does not regulate how immigrants invest or purchase things in the United States. Immigrants are free to buy cars, buy houses, and invest in the stock market; starting a business is no different. Starting your own business is an investment, not employment. Therefore, you will not require USCIS permission to start a business.

2. Can I work for my business if I don't have a work authorization?

This is complicated. Since entrepreneurship and employment are closely related, immigrants who start their own businesses need to be very careful to limit their activities to the management of and investment in the business, and not "work for" the business like a typical employee who would need USCIS permission. Thus, though you can start, register and own your own business, you cannot work for the company and earn a salary without a work authorization and an I-9 for your position. However, if you simply manage your business like an investment, there is no need for any work authorization.

3. Can I start a business if I am working on an H1-B or have an EAD with another employer?

Remember that H1-B and EAD work authorizations are employer-specific. New full-time jobs require new authorizations. However, this does not prevent you from starting and managing your own company. As you build your side business, just be careful not to ignore your work hour obligations to your current employer.

4. Can I start a company if I am a student, or the spouse of a student?

F-1 students cannot work outside the Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training systems. Spouses of F-1 students also need a separate work authorization to work. However, nothing prevents F-1 students or their spouses from starting and managing their own companies and earning money through profit distributions. Again, you just need to be careful not to draw a salary from your work.

5. If I invest in something, can I occasionally help my employees with their work?

This is a tricky question. Investing in a small business, like a McDonald's franchise, and earning profits from it does not require a work authorization. However, if you go to the shop location and help out your employees from time to time, as most small business owners do, then a USCIS officer might cry foul. However, once again, so long as you are not paid for your work, you are not in violation of your status.

This situation shows how registering a company for your business, like a C-corporation or an LLC, rather than operating as a sole proprietor, is a good idea. Registering a company will provide documentation showing that you are the owner and manager of the company, and not an employee. Such documentation can refute accusations that you are 'working' for your company. Moreover, business structures can provide important limited liability and other advantages to entrepreneurs.

6. Can I register a company if I don’t have a green card?

There is no restriction on who can register a company in the United States. It doesn't matter where you are from, or where you claim citizenship, or whether or not you have a green card. However, you will need a Registered Agent in the jurisdiction where you register the business. This is someone with a regular address in the jurisdiction who can accept process on behalf of your company. If you don’t live in the jurisdiction and can’t serve as your own registered agent, then there are many companies you can hire who will serve as a registered agent for you.

7. Can I register a company in one state even though my driver’s license is from another?

Again, there is no restriction on who can register a company in any particular location. For example, a resident of California is free to register a company in New York. However, you must be careful about where your company is doing business. You will likely need to register your business as a 'foreign' business in any jurisdiction outside your local jurisdiction where business occurs. Thus, it is always best to register your company where it does the most business, no matter where your residence or drivers license is from.

8. I'm planning to start an online business - where should I register?

A lot of modern start-up businesses are e-businesses that 'do business' almost exclusively on the Internet or through smart phones. Since the Internet is not located in any specific place, it can be difficult to judge where these companies are doing business. The safe route is for e-entrepreneurs simply to register their business in their local jurisdiction. If the e-business ever grows to require traditional 'brick and mortar'
infrastructure, at that time you can consider whether or not business is taking place in other jurisdictions.

9. Can starting my own business help me get my green card faster?

The EB-5 visa program enables entrepreneurs who create jobs in America to get green cards for themselves and their family. The adjudications are much faster than other employment-based avenues. If your small business becomes successful and results in retained earnings of $1,000,000 (or $500,000 in some cases), and you have created 10 full-time jobs for Americans, you can use your business as a new basis for your I-485 and get your provisional green card faster.

P.S.
This article is about how to open a company in USA or the process of opening a company.

More on how does a foreigner open an LLC in the US, please see Foreigner LLC in USA
Comments (146)
1. Jeremy 2010-10-06 06:59
As a foreigner in USA, I was looking for a way to open up a business there. Thanks for your info, very helpful!
2. Erica 2011-02-13 18:37
That's the most useful info I ever found for a foreigner to start a business in USA. Thanks for your expertise and generosity!
3. Lotta 2011-08-19 00:38
I live in NYC and have a spouse visa, my husband has a O-1 visa. I do not have the right to work here.

I would like to start an e-commerce comapany with an American friend. I do not need to draw a salary, but at some stage in the future, I may like to receive dividend should the company be very profitable. What is the best approach to achieve this legally whilst I still live in the US? Do I need an (E-2) from day one, or can this application wait till a later date? What happens if we sell the company for a significant profit whilst I still reside here?

Many thanks,

Lotta
4. Andy 2011-08-20 00:04
Great Q&A. Helped me a lot understand the issues with forming LLC and working while on a h1b visa. thanks.
5. JC 2011-08-20 22:41
@Lotta,

Starting an eCommerce company itself would take quite sometime to get it off the ground and be profitable. So I think probably by the time your company is profitable, you already got green card through your husband.

My suggestion is to just do it, no need to apply for E2 visa.
6. lotta 2011-08-21 00:53
Thanks for you kind reply. The business will have other aspects than just e-commerce, so is likely to take off fairly quickly... if it doesn't we will close it down.

It is not our intention to apply for a green card. If I still own part of the business, I will run it from London.

Is there a way to receive dividend whilst still living here? Can I sell the company or a share in the company whilst living here, say to a Venture Capitalist investor?
7. JC 2011-08-21 20:14
@Lotta,

Non-resident alien can take a "passive" role in a business (forming the LLC for example) but not "work" for it. There is a subtle boundary between "passive activities" and "work".

Passive activities and roles are:
-being a shareholder
-being a director or board member
These roles don't actually run the business, they just oversee the business, such as approving resolutions, electing officers.

Active activities and roles are:
-being an officer
-being an employee
-being an independent contractor
-do any work for the business
Note an officer runs the business directly so is actively involved in "working" for the business.

So in light of that, I think dividend is fine as it is passive income. But again I am not an immigration lawyer so this is just for your reference only. Best.
8. Lotta 2011-08-22 10:43
Thanks. This is such a tricky area.
9. Carmen 2011-08-23 10:26
Can I open an S corporation or an LLC if i live in another country and I do not have a Social Security ?
10. JC 2011-08-23 22:28
@Carmen,

You can form a business in USA even if you live in another country. To do that, you need to hire an agent to setup your "C" corporation or LLC. The "S" corporation is not available to foreign corporate owners.

You don't need a social security number, but the officer you appointed to control/manage/direct the company, must have a social security number.

Also your company will be required to obtain an Employer's I.D. (EIN) from the Internal revenue Service (IRS) since it must pay taxes it earns.

These are my understandings, not to be used for legal advice ;-)
11. Fernando 2011-08-27 22:25
Thanks for the information, very useful.I am currelty living in Texas with an H4 visa. The business I am trying to start basicaly consists in importing a product and looking for Points of Sales using a consignment sales strategy.

Is it legal that I personaly pursue my Points of Sale ? Or would I need to employ someone to do it?

Technically, I would not be selling products, I would be negotiating with other companies for them to sell my imported products.......

Thanks in advance
12. JC 2011-08-30 12:27
@Fernando,

With H4 visa, you can not work in the US. But you can still look for business opportunities/potential buyers with the consignment sales.

I guess as long as you are not getting paid here, you are not technically "working" in the USA.
13. ML 2011-09-07 09:43
For #4, "However, nothing prevents F-1 students or their spouses from starting and managing their own companies and earning money through profit distributions."

Please give an example.

Thanks.
14. ML 2011-09-07 22:18
Can a F-1 resident alien student open an eBay store to sell items? If yes, does he/she need to register the store in State and County? Also, is it a good idea for him/her to register this e-store as LLC?

Please advise. Thanks.
15. JC 2011-09-08 00:40
@ML,

F1 student status can not work in USA. If you sell personal items, it is ok though. My understanding is that there is a limit as for what counts as "personal".

Tax-wise, if you earn above certain dollar amount for the year, I think you will get 1099 tax form at the end of the year from eBay. So, you end up having to do tax return with that income.

The IRS doesn't track down legal status IMHO, but the USCIS might take that record and consider it as a business.

As for LLC, you can register for sure but the daily operation has to be done by someone else who has legal status to work.
16. ML 2011-09-08 23:13
Hi jc,

Thank you for your reply.

Can this LLC under my name? After register a LLC, can someone else operate it in oversea? There will be no payrolls. The only thing I need to do is to pay and file tax return in US. Is this workable?

I have been searching the web and found this:
"F-1 students cannot work outside the Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training systems. Spouses of F-1 students also need a separate work authorization to work. However, nothing prevents F-1 students or their spouses from starting and managing their own companies and earning money through profit distributions. Again, you just need to be careful not to draw a salary from your work."

Is this post true that a F-1 can earn money through profit?
17. ML 2011-09-08 23:16
Hi jc,

Sorry, let me rewrite my questions.

Can this LLC under a F-1 resident student name and have someone else in oversea to operate it?
18. JC 2011-09-13 13:01
@ML,

I think it should be just fine to register the LLC under your name. Profit from the LLC is passive income and shouldn't be counted as a result of your work for the LLC. However I think you will need proof that someone else is running the business instead of you. Take care.
19. ML 2011-09-14 07:03
@jc,
Thank you! Same to you too.
20. twinzz 2011-09-26 10:29
we are looking to start a business (b&b) in the CA area but are still at the early stages of actually opening the business. Now the q&a you posted at the beginning is already helpful but we have a few questions (we as for now have little insight in American business law). We have however taken the liberty of taking a look at the CALGOLD website for permits

- If we open up a business in the states, we understand that we don't need a GreenCard in order to have it function as a company. and that we can make executive actions for te company but not actually employ ourselves there. Does that mean that we have to live on our savings until we actually get a worker visa or how do CA regulation go on that

- which would be the actual workers visa we'd need in order to actually pay ourselves a wage? There are so many different visas that we can't really find our way through the different ones out there

thanks!
21. Zhang 2011-09-29 00:29
Thanks a lot for your helpful instructions. I am a F-1 student and my wife holds a F-2 visa. After I start an internet-sale LLC in US, if I do not hire any employees and just ask my wife (or someone else who does not have a working permission either) to operate the sales as an volunteer, would it be legal?
22. JC 2011-09-30 13:34
@twinzz,

To answer your questions...

-Taking salary/income from the business is a big no-no I think. So living on your savings is better approach.

-To get paid, you are pretty much looking at a H1B type of work visa. It is hard to justify work visa if you are a small/one-man shop, but I heard there are successful cases recently.

Example, a guy started up a one-man company doing computer design and applied for H1B for himself. Got rejected initially by USCIS, but after appealing to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) with documents showing that he got real customers and enough work for himself to do for at least 3 years, he got approved for H1B. In this case, the AAO mentioned that self-employed foreigner can get H1B as long as it is a real business and the person works in his professional field, i.e., computer design.

Anyhow, the approval didn't come without some legal hassle.
23. JC 2011-09-30 13:45
@Zhang,

It is hard to justify a legit business with just owners and volunteers. You might think about hiring contractors who have work permit in the USA to operate online sales for you.
24. Joxa toni 2011-10-07 11:09
I am on an O1 visa as a photographer, and I am entering a partnership for the launch of a clothing label. Because I am on my O1 visa as a photographer I will be doing all the photoshoots and productions for the label, since I am authorized to work in the US as a photographer obviously I am acting as an independent contractor offering my services to my company and getting paid for them.
Is this a grey area or one thing excludes the other in this specific case? Thanks you!
25. JC 2011-10-11 23:29
@Joxa,

O1 visa typically requires you to have a US employer or agent to file a petition on your behalf. It doesn't permit pure self-employment.

If you have a partnership in the USA, your company may be able to file a petition for you. However, if you are just a freelancer, I would think it is not easy to get approved. The more established the company is, i.e., with some employees in the US, clients and on-going work, the easier for the company to be your sponsor for O1.
26. Angelic 2011-10-13 04:54
Hi jc,
thank you for all the helpful information. I have a question, hope you can help me out.

We are currently living in Germany. My husband received a very goog job offer from a US company. I assume, he will get a H1 visa when he accepts this offer and I won't be able to get a work permit through him.
My husband and I have been working on an internet-business which is ready to launch in couple of months. If we will incorporate an LLC in the US, we both won't be allowed to work for this LLC.
Do we have to hire a Manager in order to run the business or would a simple employee with low salary work as well?
To hire someone, can we wait until company makes profit? By then, I will work without getting salary.
Thanks!
27. SP Singh 2011-10-14 07:48
Hi Jan,

Can F-1 Student open a LLC in US with foreign partner or without foreign partner ? Is there going to be any legal issue for F-1 student to be a member of LLC in USA ? Can you guide me ?
28. SP Singh 2011-10-14 07:53
Hi Jan,

One more thing i want to know. What documents i need to show that its legal to open LLC as f-1 student to government.

Regards
29. @pepper 2011-10-15 14:43
Hello,

I'm from the filmmaking world and I am just out of a grad school waiting for my EAD. I plan to do freelance works on film shoots and I just opened up my own llc as a single member.

So I wanted to ask: Would it be okay if they hire (aka "loan-out") my llc and I work for my llc with no salary expectations until I get my EAD?

I know that I can't personally get salary without getting my work permit but can my llc make profits through the freelance jobs that I will be doing as its manager?

Thank you!
30. Jing 2011-10-17 14:59
Thanks for your helpful site. I want to open a business in US to market my invention, either by selling my patent or license it out for royalties. I may have to work on my further inventions to apply more patent for the company. I lived in US before but not reside there anymore. After reading you post, sounds like I can do the former but for the latter (further inventions), I have to do it outside of US? Beside, if I want to go to US, what kind of visa is best for my case? B-1 or E-2? Thanks!
31. SP Singh 2011-10-19 11:07
Hi Jan,

I am waiting from couples of days. Can you help me ? I greatly appreciate your efforts.

Thanks,
SP Singh
32. JC 2011-11-06 23:36
@Singh,
Sorry for late response, but I've been sick and busy with work these days. For your question, first, I don't see any problem for F1 student to open an LLC in US, either with or without foreign partner. Second, as for documents for opening an LLC, we will compile a list and attach below when we got time.
33. JC 2011-11-06 23:40
@pepper,
I'd say if you could let them hold off the payment until you get the EAD, that will be better.
34. JC 2011-11-07 00:06
@Jing,
It seems to me that if you want to work on future inventions, you have to be outside of the US. As for visa requirement, E2 visa allows you to work, but for B1, you can not work in the US.
35. JC 2011-11-07 00:30
@Angelic,
You don't need to hire a manager to run the business, an employee is fine. Since you are going to run an Internet business, you can wait until your company is profitable and then hire an employee. Before that, just don't take any salary.
36. JC 2012-06-16 12:22
I keep getting emails from people about setting up a company in USA. So I think there is a bit of a misconception here regarding who can setup a business and who can not. I am not an attorney but I guess with my limited knowledge on this matter, I still probably can give some help.

To setup a biz in USA, visa status doesn't really matter. You basically just need to find a good accountant or lawyer to do it for you. Typically, lot of foreign companies would setup corporation or LLC. The only thing that you couldn't do as a foreigner (nonresident) is that you can't setup an S-Corporation.
37. JC 2012-08-11 00:49
laughlinusa.com has a free ebook on incorporation. It claims to be the perfect guide for understanding the process of incorporating and how to use a Corporation or LLC once you've taken that first step. The ebook has the following topics:
-Your Basic Structure and Strategy Guide
-When Should You Incorporate
-233 Often Overlooked Tax Deductions
-A Complete Understanding of LLCs
38. JC 2012-09-15 12:37
Recently I heard from an interview, the guy used LegalZoom to do all the LLC registration and related procedure. It seems to be quite cheap.
39. lily 2012-09-24 03:11
Hi,

Your information is very helpful. I am living in China but i will move to Denver,US next year. I want to open a resturant in Denver. One of my friend in Denver may issue an working visa to me. I have below questions need your kindly reply:
1.Which type of working visa is most suitable for me to run a restaurant? My friend has an LLC company and he is local American.
2.If I can be the owner of the restaurant with my working visa?

Thanks and looking forword for your quick reply.
Lily
40. JC 2012-09-25 15:17
@lily,
Your question is answered here.
41. lily 2012-10-05 01:17
Hi Miao,
Thanks for your reply. As for my second question, you mentioned need more my background, pls let me know what's kind of infos you need to analyse my case. I have a HK company, if this will help?

Lily
42. JC 2012-10-05 22:17
@lily,
If you are interested in exploring different options, I encourage you to ask Miao directly by email with your resume ad a brief description of your business plan in the USA, also your background as well. She could give you free evaluation.
43. alex 2012-10-26 05:07
Thanks for the helpful resource!
I'm a non-citizen (do not plan visiting the US) and going to register US entity together with US citizen.
What type of entity is allowed if I agreed with my US party for 50/50 participation in e-business to be started?
44. JC 2012-10-28 11:33
@alex,

Please see the following answer to your question below.

The format of your business has more to do with business needs than immigration requirements. The only entity that is not available to you is S-corp because your status as a non-resident alien.

Commonly used business forms include LLC, C-Corp, Limited Partnership, etc. All these entities can allow 50/50 split. An overly general statement or analysis would be that for smaller companies LLCs are desirable because of the flexibility it offers. C-Corp has the issue of double taxation (i.e. dividend is taxed at the corporate level and then at the shareholder's personal level).

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
45. kutyasi 2012-11-06 07:36
Helo Everybody,

I and my family would like to move to the US. We are hungarian, but we are living in Malta at the moment. We dont have green cards.

Can we move to the US and start a Sole Proprioterorship?
I heard this fasten the process of getting a green card.

Sorry, but my knowledge about moving to US not too good. :(

Can somebody help or offer me a webpage to collect informations?

Thank you!
46. JC 2012-11-06 13:15
@kutyasi,
Welcome! Ms. Miao has kindly provided the answer for you at Moving To U.S. and Starting A Sole Proprietorship
47. donjst 2012-11-08 21:10
Jc,

Thanks for the fantastic site.

I would like to provide consulting services (all performed online) to businesses in the U.S., but currently live in Singpore. I am not a U.S. citizen or resident. However, I do have a U.S. social security number and personal bank account in the U.S.

Do you know if I can just perform my work in Singapore and ask that my American clients pay me through my personal bank account int the U.S.? I am wondering if I can then just report this income as sole proprietorship income on a 1040 NR. I am trying to avoid the hassle of starting an LLC and creating a bank account for it in the US...
48. eric 2012-11-10 22:50
Hi, JC

I am currently a F1 student in US, Can I open a store with my friend, who is a us citizen?
49. JC 2012-11-11 08:51
@donjst,

Please see Qingqing Miao's answer below. Thanks,

Your question involves both immigration law & the U.S. tax law.

Under the current immigration law, you generally do not need U.S. work authorization if your work is performed overseas (i.e. outside the U.S.) regardless of the nationality of your employer. Nevertheless, the rule may not always be crystal clear.

As to tax, the question is whether your income from your business will be considered "U.S. source of income." Since you are performing all the work outside the U.S., there is a possibility that your income will not be considered as "U.S. source of income." A CPA or a tax attorney could probably give a more definite answer on how to categorize such income. You may also find this IRS link very helpful.

If you can incorporate your company in Singapore and then conduct business with the U.S. clients remotely through your company, then you can almost be certain that you do not need U.S. work authorization. At the same time, under such arrangement, it is more likely that your income from your U.S. clients will not be subject to U.S. tax.

One last note, it is generally recommended that you incorporate your company because an incorporated business entity could effectively shield you from personal liabilities.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
50. JC 2012-11-14 13:44
@eric,

I have Qingqing Miao answering your question as follows. Thanks,

There is no rule prohibiting F-1 visa holder from starting a company in the U.S.. Nevertheless, the law prohibits F-1 visa holder from engaging in unauthorized employment. Thus, if you open your own company with your friend but do not personally operate or work for the company, it should be fine. You could receive dividend (or other kind of distribution based on your equity interest) but you cannot receive any salary for your services to the company. Also, if you put any effort or labor into your company, even when you are only paid by dividend, you cannot entirely avoid the question of unauthorized employment.

Under the current rules and regulations, it will be difficult for you to start your business venture unless your sole purpose is to invest in it and receive passive income as a shareholder/LLC member.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
51. kats 2012-11-16 14:37
My situation is somewhat different from previous questions.

I already have my company. It was started 3 years ago when I had work authorization. It's registered as Sole Proprietorship. By June 2012, the business employed 1-2 US citizens already.

Now my visa changed to H4. I cannot work.
I plan to let US employees to run & operate the business.The business is mature enough to be operated by employees & for me to be a passive shareholder/investor.

We also moved to a new state & need to register again.
Since H1/H4 will be under scrutiny in green card process, I want to do everything right & strictly legal to avoid problem by USICS down the road.
Of course when I register the company in the new state, I will list myself as Shareholder & Board of Director only. Everything will be documented & US citizen who will run the business will be on payroll.


What precautions should I take to avoid future problem with Green Card Application?
52. Qingqing Miao 2012-11-19 13:39
@kats,

You will probably need to schedule a consultation w/ an attorney as your issue sounds very fact specific.

The short answer is you should stop working and how you register your company generally has more to do w/ your business need than the immigration concerns. You may want to specify that board of directors are not compensated just to make it more clear.

As to company registration, you can simply register your company as a foreign company permitted to do business in the state you are moving to.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
53. JJ 2012-12-03 21:57
hi there and thank you in advance for your kindness

i came as tourist visa with 6 months permission to stay in the US back in 2009. During this time i dated and we got married and to us citizen.

i receive work autorization card and my SSN later on. We had problems and decided to divorce short time after receiving the work auto, so uscis send me a hearing for removal proceedings because overstayed my tourist visa. Till the time for court starts
i met new person we fell in love and we together since(3 years). The court dates been reschedueled several times and when my 1st marriage divorce has finaled we got married (2nd marriage and ye to US citizen).

Now im in the process waiting for an answer on the I130 we filled (proof of marriage) but the court date for the removal still on till the marriage get approved(i130) take time for uscis to respond because its my second marriage they give us hard time.

I didn't work and lived like a ghost in the past 3 years, my wife supporting right now, my brother wants to borrow me money around 12,000-15,000$ range (check)to start my own business and I came with an idea for some beauty shop with employee or two, one as manager and worker and i thought about an LLC S, and from my hand i might just order the merchandise and set the physical place.

1.is there going to be an issue if i d there llc or in on my name?(with/without being on payroll)
2.Can i open business without making my status even worse(the immigration see it as second marriage on removal proceedings)
3.How do i prove that i didn work?( is it only by not being on he payroll or something else need to have as record)?
4.is there a way if the business success and there more labor for ople to apply for a different visatype ?even that on the removal proceedings/overstayed my visa
5.is it going to effect my citzenship?
6.can it be inc llc anything or there limitation for the type of business you can register?
7.Is the amount of money play as a factor?
8.are the USCIS or the IRS going to give me a hard time for the amoount of money(brother money which prob be given to me with a check)
9.is it matter if my driver license from different state to open the business in another state?
10.How do i pay my self since I cant be on the payroll? (just taking whatever aamoun choose of the business account)?
Thank you very much
you are all awesome
54. Qingqing Miao 2012-12-07 19:13
@JJ,

I don't now do removal work and thus cannot speak to the procedure regarding your removal proceeding. Your timeline is not very clear. My understanding is that you have been out of status since 2009 (or when you got divorced with your first wife).

It is unclear to me whether you have filed I-485 w/ your I-130. Given the complexity of your situation, I would recommend that you do not operate a business until your status issue is straightened out to avoid any potential problems. Also, you probably should think about consulting with a lawyer who specializes in removal proceedings.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
55. ambitious 2013-01-01 05:46
I am a Malaysian citizen and I am thinking of buying s fast food franchise in California and eventually hoping to get a green card to live there as well with my family. How do I go about setting up the business ? I do not have a Green card. Please advise.
56. Qingqing Miao 2013-01-02 18:25
@ambitious,

Your question is multi-layered and it is highly recommended that you set up an consultation session with an attorney.

Based on the information provided, your option to get a green card may be EB-2 NIW and EB-5 but without knowing more about your background and your intended investment, it is difficult to assess the feasibility of either option. H-1B is in theory an option but more information is needed for an initial assessment. If you own a business in Malaysia or anywhere else outside the U.S., L-1 could potentially be an option as well but again, more information is needed.

If your family members are US citizens, you may want to explore the possibility of family-based immigration. This may come with long waiting period but it may be the least costly option.

I am not licensed in CA and thus cannot advise on CA business law. A duly licensed CA business law attorney should be able to walk you through the buying process and give you valuable guidance.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
57. ambitious 2013-01-03 08:10
Thanks for replying Qingqing Miao.

I am planning to invest into a fast food franchise like Subway or it's equivalent in California. I have interest to run this restaurant and employing locals is part and parcel of the business. My desire is to build the business and eventually move my family over to reside permanently in the US. I have a brother who is a Green card holder residing in California.

Appreiciate some guidance on how this can be done.

Thank You
58. Qingqing Miao 2013-01-04 17:13
@ambitious,

Since your brother is not a US citizen, family-based immigration is not an option.

If your primary focus is on immigrating or moving to the U.S., to fully explore your option, you should consider setting up a consultation with an immigration attorney. You will need to provide the attorney with your detailed resume and also with more specific information about your business plan (i.e. how much money you are thinking about investing, the source of your investment fund, how many employees you are expecting to hire, what position you would like to assume, etc.)

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
59. ambitious 2013-01-05 21:56
Thank you for your reply. Much appreciated.
60. Anil Sharma 2013-01-05 23:12
I am Director of Indian Pvt Ltd Want to expand our business in US. Our business mode is Online Travel Agency However to support our clients we have to manage online/official support.
Expatiation of current business or formation of a new company C corporation in US what is beneficial for us ?
61. Qingqing Miao 2013-01-08 08:55
@Anil,

Your question is too broad for an answer without a full consultation. Anyhow, below is just an oversimplified answer.

My understanding is that you are thinking about whether to set up a branch office or a new corp. First, the tax consequences may be different. Setting up a branch office in the U.S. may complicate the tax filing obligations of the Indian company. Second, the decision may also affect how often or how likely the Indian company is going to be sued in the U.S. Having a branch office may be more likely to expose the Indian company to U.S. litigation. Third, each option will require different filing procedures as well.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
62. GCinProcess 2013-01-21 12:12
My green card is in final stage which was sponsored by company A and I have received EAD also.

My question is: is it ok if now I can become a 50% shareholder in the company and use my EAD to work and manage company or I have to wait until I received my green card.

Thanks for your help.
63. JC 2013-01-22 13:41
@GCinProcess,
Thanks for posting your question. It is answered here.
64. Ray 2013-02-01 21:26
Hi there,

My friend & I are on b1/b2 status, we were planning to set up a restaurant business in the US, my understanding is that we can set up a company even we're not a permanent resident.

My questions are:

 Is there any possibilities for us to apply for any kind of visa and change our status from b1/b2 to H1 or E2 or any type of visa so we can stay longer inside the US to guide our company?

Since my parents & sisters are having a green card in the US, would it be possible also if I will register the business under their name, and then later on apply for h1 visa? is there any complications if the owner of the company is my parents and then they're hiring me (son) as h1 visa?

Thank u in advance for responding.

Ray
65. JC 2013-02-02 11:14
@Ray,
Thanks for your inquiry. Your question is answered here.
66. GHANAN 2013-02-19 15:03
CAN A FOREIGN NATIONAL, NON-US RESIDENT BUY OIL AND GAS ROYALITIES IN THE US?
67. JC 2013-02-20 23:39
@GHANAN,
I don't see why not.
68. Manik Suri 2013-02-27 11:05
Hi there,

I am a green card holder and want to start a new business in the USA. My parents are Indian citizens. They have offered me some monetary help of $200,000 to start up a new business. How can i have them send me the money? as there are certain restrictions on the amount of money that can be transfered out of India at 1 time.

Please advice
Manik
69. JC 2013-02-27 20:36
@Manik,

I guess it is more relating to the law of India. You might need to do multiple money transfers per the regulations of India.
70. Meg 2013-03-16 17:26
Hello,
I have a spouse visa with no work permit.

I would like to start a business, an artist studio, but I am not qualified for an O-1.

I was wondering:
- Is creating considered as work?
- Is a work permit needed to be able to sell?

Thank you very much for your Q&A.

Best regards,
Meg
71. Qingqing Miao 2013-03-18 17:53
Operating an art studio for the purpose of sale is probably employment. Again, the current rule is not clear-cut. The safest approach is to explore work visa options.

The answer above is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
72. JC 2013-03-31 15:38
There are two investment visa programs that allow foreigners to invest in the US and live here legally: The E2 and EB5. If you would like to know more, drop us a note at jiansnet@gmail.com.
73. SINGH 2013-04-04 09:26
Hi Sir,

I am an Indian citizen and having B1 visa with me. I recently setup a LLC and got the EIN and US Bank account.

Can I travel to my clients to get the deal finalized and my Indian workers will be working remotely and US Client will pay to my LLC Bank account at US.

Is this legal?

Singh
74. kevin 2013-04-05 08:07
hello my name is kevin, I live Togo and I own a web browser company which I sign a partnership deal with a local mobile manufacture for half a million(USD).

I want to start the company in the united state and I heard about the setup visa. How can I apply?
75. Qingqing Miao 2013-04-05 12:59
@Singh,

If you have B-1 visa, you should be able to come to the U.S. to do things such as negotiating contracts, preparing to set up a company, etc. Once the LLC is set up and is generating revenue, you may be required to file US personal income tax for the income of the LLC as LLC has the pass-through tax structure.

The answer above is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
76. Qingqing Miao 2013-04-05 13:01
@kevin,

If you are a citizen of Togo, you could be eligible to apply for an E-2 visa. If you are going to invest half a million, you may also be eligible for EB-5 immigration. You need to consult with an immigration attorney to explore your options.

The answer above is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
77. kevin 2013-04-10 06:50
thank you very much for your information
so I can only move my company from Togo to the united state if I only invest half a million in it..
thank you
78. Osama 2013-04-11 04:04
I am not a U.S. citizen and not living in U.S. I have been thinking of starting an online reseller business for U.S. customers. I have researched and have few online wholesellers and suppliers in mind to begin with, also a team to start designing website. I wanted to ask am I being a non U.S. citizen eligible to start an online business across America? Am I to be considered a normal entrepreneur, what limitations and obligations will I have if I can start such a business? I hope someone can help?
79. Pineda 2013-04-14 22:02
Hi:
I am on an F-1 visa. Two years ago I bought a Mexican restaurant on which I used to work under the books for them. I have 18 employees of which about half of them have questionable documents but nevertheless they presented me documents. My mom is the "official" manager and she has a green card but nevertheless I work on the restaurant on Friday and Saturdays but I don't get any salary out of it. I have never put myself on payroll but I am afraid if I apply for an E-2 visa they might found out about how involved I was in the restaurant. Also the original purchase price was 70,000 dollars. Do I have any chance of moving to an h1-b visa or an E-2 visa once I graduate this May from University? What are some complications that might arise? Thanks for the great site and I look forward on working my case with you guys.
80. JC 2013-04-16 21:01
@Osama,
Please see the answer here.
81. JC 2013-04-17 11:04
@Pineda,
Your question is answered here.
82. Aina oluwaseyi anthony 2013-04-18 08:43
pls i wish to secure a job in usa,pls i need a sponsor, am in nigeria,pls hw can i do it,ve been applying for so many jobs over there,but its all to no avail
83. JC 2013-04-23 15:39
@Aina,
To secure a job or to even come to the USA, you need to figure out the proper path and your strength. What you are passionate about? Why company would hire you but not the next guy?

I think you need to leverage your existing skillset, rather than just applying bluntly for any possible job/opportunity.

Overall, the best way is to study in the U.S. first and be trained and get your degree. Then, you are qualified for employment based immigration.

Of course, if you have the money, you could establish a business in the U.S as an investor, but it is not in your case I guess.
84. Petra 2013-05-01 09:28
Hi,
That's the most useful info I ever found for a foreigner to start a business in USA. Thanks for your greatness and generosity!!!!
85. JC 2013-05-01 09:58
@Petra,
You are very welcome! I felt frustrated when I was trying to startup a small personal business in America, at the time I had only H1B. Also, other than the legal issues, I was not sure about doing tax for my business income. So, that's why I added this page.

Although not a tax expert by any means, I think I might dig in more about tax related questions for personal/small business in the future.
86. petra 2013-05-01 10:15
Hi,
I am currently living in Texas with F2 visa. The business I am trying to start basicaly consists in assited ederly people - like an Assisted Living House(with no licese at the biginning). It is legal if I personaly manage/control the company? What kind of company is better to open, a "C" or "LLC"? Should I be the only owner or should I have an associate?

Thanks in advance, I realy appreciated your guidance!!!!
Petra
87. JC 2013-05-04 21:43
@petra,
Given that you are on F2 visa, I don't think you could actively manage/control the company, although you can be an owner of the company. LLC is best in terms of the format of the company.

Also, as you can not work in your business, I think you should have another person that is authorized to work in the U.S. for your company.
88. Drew S 2013-05-05 00:21
Hello,

I am from a country that has the 'Singapore-US freetrade agreement'. As such I have a separate visa class called, H1B1(5400 caps). The quota was taken out from pool of H1b visas issue every year. Barely 600 are being used by singaporeans at the moment and the unused caps are thrown back in the main pool. I intent to go to the US on a B visa and convert to that particular visa(H1B1). I understand that there has been some changes in the old H1b visa...whereby someone opening their own business, upon proving the employer-employee separation, can apply for the H1b on their own. Can i do that for the H1b1 as well? Please advice. Thank you.
89. Qingqing Miao 2013-05-05 17:21
@Drew S,

H-1B1s are essentially preferential H-1Bs for citizens of Chile & Singapore when it comes to cap count and application procedures. The substantive requirements of an H-1B1 are not that different from those of a regular H-1B. H-1B1 could be a possibility for you. But it is recommended that you consult with an attorney about your specific case before moving on with your visa application.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
90. YFL 2013-05-09 16:25
With a HUGE THANK for your information here! I found the right place to put my question.
I started up a small business (C corporation) in Texas two years ago. It has been operated by a friend (a US citizen)but I never paid to him. There is no profit so far (but have small amount of wholesale revenue ) so I did not take out profit from the company except some expense paid out of my pocket. I live out side of US.
Is there any issue for my case?

Thanks
91. Qingqing Miao 2013-05-12 11:08
@YFL,

If you and your friend do not have any employment/contractor agreement, there might be a risk of unpaid wage claims. This happens to businesses from time to time.

Since you are outside the U.S., there should not be any immigration-related issues. If you start taking profit distribution, certain tax rules will apply and you may need to get an ITIN for tax withholding and reporting purposes.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
92. snejok 2013-05-22 19:28
Hi Can i form LLC for online store if im Resident Alien and i dont have work permit and visa.thanks
93. JC 2013-05-22 19:42
@snejok,
Sure you can form an LLC and be the owner of it. But you can NOT work for your company since as an alien, you need to get permit for working in America.
94. Mani 2013-05-26 00:55
Hi,

I'm an Indian citizen and would like to open an LLC in US. As I understand that LLC can be formed without a problem but my main concern is how can I open my business bank account in US without travel to US?

Thanks.
95. Qingqing Miao 2013-05-29 11:56
@Mani,

Please check with the banks and see what their policies are. My clients have opened bank account while outside the U.S. How it works depends on the bank you would like to work with.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
96. Hanes 2013-06-12 15:54
I desperately need your advice.

I come from PRC and just graduated college in computer science. I want to start an IT company but I don't have much money to invest and apply for immigration through EB-5. I want to remain in US to run my business but my legal status is my biggest problem right now (I'm on OPT right now but I know a company requires 10+ years of time).
Is applying for H1B the only way for me to stay? Since there is lottery in FY 2014, if I didn't get it I will have to leave... and I don't want to get married for a green card. I consulted a lawyer yesterday and I was informed that funds from VCs can't help myself through EB 5 either, as the funds are investment, not gifts.

What other options do I have?
97. JC 2013-06-14 10:37
@Hanes,

I think to maintain your legal status in the U.S, you need to apply for an H1B. For you to apply for EB5, it seems to me you almost have to have the money yourself, rather than the money from VC (I am not a lawyer, so I can not say for sure)

The bottomline is, my gut feeling tells that H1B is your only option.

By the way, don't get too distressed about this. You will be successful anywhere, even in China, if you just hunker down and keep working on your dream.

Good luck!
98. Qingqing Miao 2013-06-17 22:24
@Hanes,
VC fund probably cannot be used as EB-5 fund in your case as VC funds cannot be considered your own money. Your option is probably quite limited. To further access what your options are, one needs to know more about your company and your background. H-1B, L-1 (only when the U.S. company is related to a foreign company in which you held a qualified position for sufficient years), O-1A (extraordinary ability) could potentially be your options but they may all be difficult depending on your particular circumstances. You may want to consult an attorney who will go through will the options with you.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
99. zia 2013-07-19 10:21
Hi, can a J2 visa holder with EAD, employed full time at an organization, be a passive owner member/hold member stocks in LLC? Thanks
100. Qingqing Miao 2013-07-21 22:53
@zia,

The law does not prohibit you from becoming an owner of an LLC. If you are not going to manage/operate this LLC, you should not run into problem of unauthorized employment. One thing to keep in mind: the income from this LLC must be reported in your tax return.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Answer provided by:
Qingqing Miao
Shatz Law Group PLLC
101. Daniel 2014-01-24 12:09
Good day All,

I am a current holder of a B1/B2 visa I work in the oil&gas industry bases in Kazakhstan. I am a South African citizen married to my Kazak wife with 3 children 11,6 and 2 months old boy.

I would like to start a import-export business of classic and vintage cars with the emphases in importing c&v cars to be sold on auctions. Still continue working as I work on a 1 month on 1 month off basis. Also I would like to have my wife and children stay in the US and send the children to school there.

Any suggestion's and advice? thanks.
102. JC 2014-01-24 22:48
@Daniel,

The only types of visas that I know of that would lead to immigration to the USA are either E-1 and E-2 visas for traders & investors or H1B based work visa.

In your case, it seems to me E1/E2 visa is a way to go.
103. mohamed 2014-01-28 11:49
Good day all,

I have H4 visa, can i buy cars from auction and sell it again to make some money??
104. Donald 2014-01-28 19:49
I am one of four graduate students who are planning to start a consulting business. One of us is American, two of us are foreign students under the F1 visa, and one has just graduated and working under an OPT. Judging from the previous posts and some info online, we can start an LLC as long as none of us are on payroll under the company. As three of us are from different countries, I would like to know first of all if an LLC is the best choice for our situation or is there another type of business entity that is more suitable for our complex company composition?

What kind of lawyer would you suggest that would help us?

Donald
105. JC 2014-01-28 23:05
@mohamed,
I'd say that if you buy and sell cars occasionally, it is probably fine. So basically you are just doing it casually but not a regular business type of thing. Otherwise, I think you might get into trouble with your H4 visa.
106. JC 2014-01-28 23:09
@Donald,
LLC is the easiest way to get started. But foreigners can also do a C-Corp. It depends on your goal for the business. I would say a business lawyer that is familiar with immigration should be good.
107. VC007 2014-02-05 10:06
My sister is a us resident, can she open a small restaurant and hire me and my wife as employees. (we are Italian citizens).
108. JC 2014-02-05 13:44
@VC007,
Yes, your sister can open a small restaurant. But I think she needs to apply for you and your wife the work visa (possibly H2B visa) in order for both of you to work in the States here.
109. Mel 2014-02-07 14:47
I have a visitor visa but I am planning to put up a day care center in maryland. Do I need to go back home first to my native land and apply for a business visa before putting the day care center? Or attending some seminars and working for the permit?
110. JC 2014-02-07 23:28
@Mel,
Your visitor visa (B1 visa) is only good for staying in the USA but you can not use that visa to work here. I believe the best is for you to go back home first and apply for say, E2 visa. It is the visa for entrepreneurs who want to setup companies in the USA and invest a significant amount of money. But I heard you have to be from one of the countries the U.S. has a treaty with.
111. Susanna 2014-02-14 09:47
Hi and thank you in advance for your kind reply. I hold dual citizenship in both Singapore & Australia (currently living in Australia) and have a degree in Physiotherapy from Australia, which I have found the USA does not allow me to work under that. I am also a Pilates instructor. I ultimately want to live in NYC. I have applied for jobs as a Pilates instructor in hope of getting the E3 visa.... However, should this fail, what other options are available to me? Is it worthwhile applying to start my own Pilates studio under the E2 visa or will I qualify for the H1B visa? Thanks again!
112. MARIO VALENTINO 2014-02-17 17:36
Hi. First I want to thank you so much for all this answers, you guys help so many people. What I want to ask is if I came as H2b worker in US for a moving company(this is my second time on a H2B and I applied for a change of status in b1/b2. While I am in pending status I want to open my own moving business company and I was wondering that if I open it soon and by the end of the year I have a good profit and if I can prove that I am the manager(and the owner of course-and if I can prove that I take care of the marketing field in my own business-I choose marketing because I have a Bachelor in Marketing from Europe; would I be able to apply for an H1b change of status regarding my Marketing degree and involvement in my own business? Thank you for your time!
113. JC 2014-02-17 22:39
@MARIO VALENTINO,

When you open your company in the States here, you have to get someone to work in the business. I think doing marketing work is also working for your business, so legally speaking, you are not allowed to do that.

I think in general, you either have to have an established business in USA so your business can apply for H1B for you; or, you have to partner with a person who has green card or citizenship. That person can work for your business while you are just the shareholder/owner of the business.
114. JC 2014-02-17 23:04
@Susanna,

Unfortunately, it seems to me your choices are limited to either H1B or E2 visa. E2 visa has quite some requirements, you need to research online about that. For H1B, if you find an employer say, in New York, I don't see why it is hard to get?

Another choice is to study for a degree in physical education maybe and get F1 student visa. Then, after graduation, you can find an employer and do H1b that way.
115. Uma Iyer 2014-02-21 03:34
I am currently in India and want to start my restaurant in usa. Can someone guide me for the same.
116. JC 2014-02-23 09:33
@Uma,
One way you can do is to explore the EB-5 investment visa in USA. Here is an excerpt from wikipedia:

The EB-5 visa for Immigrant Investors is a United States visa created by the Immigration Act of 1990. This visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a "Targeted Employment Area" - high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family.
117. Ankit 2014-04-05 17:23
Hi,

I am currently on F1 OPT STEM extension in a full time job. My company is filing an H1B for me. I wish to set up a small business which will operate from India, but will be set up here.

1. On F1 OPT STEM, can I form a LLC/C-Corp with me as owner and maintain my current job too?
2. On F1 OPT STEM, if I wish to be a passive investor in the firm, what is the max percentage share can I hold?
3. On F1 OPT STEM, If I open a LLC with profit distribution and 50% ownership, with operations in India, can my firm get a local bank account with my SSN? Such a firm will have CEO and all officers in India.
118. JC 2014-04-10 19:02
@Ankit,

Please see my answer as follows.

1. You can register either an LLC or C-Corp and still keep your H1B job.

2. Yes, you can be and can only be a passive investor/owner of the company, since you can't work for your company. I doubt the shares matter since that's separate from legal status concerns.

3. Yes, you can use your SSN to get a bank account for your business.

I am not a lawyer and the above is just for your reference.
119. Brian 2014-04-24 13:37
Hi,

I am foreign student with F-1 visa but my child was born in US, can I do any business under his name, and use his SSN to pay tax, like selling stuff on ebay? Will that affect my status and green card application in the future?

Thank you very much!
120. JC 2014-04-24 20:13
@Brian,

There are child labor laws in USA, you may double check to make sure that your son can work for your family business.

For online business, I think children can work on it with limited hours per week. However, if your son is an infant, it will be a problem justifying to the IRS that he did the work and not you ;-)

Also, I just checked, eBay has the following rule:

"You must be at least 18 years old to be an eBay member.

A person under 18 can use an adult's account with the permission of the account holder. However, the account holder is responsible for everything done with that account."

So, for selling stuff on eBay, it might be tricky since you are involved as well. You need to prove that you didn't do the work and the money is earned by your child.

In general, I wouldn't recommend doing like this, it is just too complicated.
121. Matt 2014-05-12 18:44
I'm not living in the US.
Is it legal for me to start a company (e.g. an LLC) and manage it in the US, however outsource the work to another country (i.e. where I'm based)?

What I'm trying to say is, if I work from my country on a contract basis with a US employer, through my own US-based LLC (corp to corp)...would this be OK? or should I need an H1B VISA?

thanks
Matt
122. JC 2014-05-13 07:06
@Matt,
I think it is ok. As a foreigner, you can register an LLC with C-Corp taxation or just register a C-Corp. If you don't work in the USA, you don't need H1B visa. It might be a bit tricky to open a bank account here in the U.S, since you are a foreigner. But ultimately it is doable.
123. ap 2014-05-18 01:53
Hi there,

First of all thanks a lot for this great forum - the best I've found.

I've just read all the answers but don't really found my question 100%.

I'm living in Germany and planning to form ALONE a C-Corp in Delaware. I thought to start managing it from Germany as CEO contractor till I find 1-2 US co-founders. I've just saw that you were talking about 'passive' and 'active' work. As a CEO contractor is an active work, but living in Germany it should not be a probl., right?

Thank you very much for an informative replay!

P.S. Immigration would be a topic only when the biz is established or having VCs would need my presence there.
124. ap 2014-05-18 02:28
Sorry, I've forgotten to write that the biz is an online venture targeting global customers at the same level. (Auctions platform)

Thank you!
125. JC 2014-05-19 23:04
@ap,
I think it is ok, since you are operating the business remotely in Germany.
126. perera 2014-05-26 21:30
I have f2 visa and I have a company a LLC back in my home country say I register a foreign LLC the purpose will be to have a banking service to a website that is not been provided properly back in our country.. a payment gateway and electronic wire transfer service to our website..

so what is my legal status of running this service and also do I have to have an TIN or do I have to pay taxes for this service and can I wire the profits to my country.
127. JC 2014-05-27 21:02
@perera,
If you have a company back in your home country, you can still run your company I think. If your company does business with clients in the USA, it seems to me your company only needs to do tax return with your home country. If you setup a company here in the USA, that's another story. You do need work permit to operate a USA LLC though.
128. mmm 2014-06-13 07:44
Hello everybody,

I have O1B visa and I am currently working here in USA. I want to open my own company and I would like to know what should I do?

Thank you very much in advance!
129. JC 2014-06-13 22:05
@mmm,
O1B visa is employer-specific and you can not work for another company without a work permit. See this O1 Visa Getting Paid Job In USA?.

It is possible that you can register a company (LLC or C-Corp), but you can not work for your own company. You still need to obtain a permit (H1B visa), even for your own company.
130. Max 2014-06-16 14:04
Hello everybody,
My wife has an asylum case and we are waiting for our court date(2016).

We already got SSN/EAD and now as I understand I have to renew my EAD (Employment Authorization Document) every year and pay $760 for both of us.

Question, should I renew it each year or just work without it.

I have my own Film business and I've newer used EAD in my life, only SSN or my LLC paperwork.

Thank you!
131. nanshenlaw 2014-06-18 11:46
@Max,
If you and your wife have legal status other than asylum pending, and your status allows you to work in the U.S., then you are fine without EAD based on asylum.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Nan Shen, Esq.
LAW OFFICES OF NAN SHEN
www.nanshenlaw.com
132. RomyJurado 2014-06-21 19:55
Any foreign national can start a business in the United States while in the United States as a business visitor.

The business visitor (B-1) visa regulations permit a person to establish a business in the United States and attend board meetings as a director.

As a business visitor, you can gain entry to the United States for up to six months on each entry using a B-1 visa (although the admission period could be shorter), and three months using the Visa Waiver Program.

However, you could not manage or direct the operations of the business as a business visitor on a B-1 visa.

Romy B. Jurado, Esq.
Business & Immigration Lawyer passionate about helping small business owners and entrepreneurs grow and protect their businesses
www.JFLawFirm.com
133. Denver 2014-06-22 19:26
hello good day i have a O-1 visa and I wanted to open a small business here in the U.S; we have a great product from the company and i want to sell the products here with a small capital like less than $5,000, is there a possible way for me to do this
134. JC 2014-06-27 16:06
@Denver,
I don't know of a better way since O-1 visa is employer-specific and therefore you cannot work for another employer without filing another petition. Please see Question on O1 Visa Getting Paid Job In USA.
135. sanjay 2014-07-08 01:32
Dear,

i was considering to set up a suitable corp.. registered out of Nevada or similar... for acquiring farm houses and to undertake some farming operations...

my query is that (a) can i apply for any residential visa so that i can operate and look after the investment made???

if so, which visa applies.

i am an indian citizen / passport holder and currently in Dubai for about 14 years...

rgds/sanjay
136. nanshenlaw 2014-07-09 22:22
@sanjay,

You may consider applying for L-1 or EB-5.

Unfortunately, Indian citizens are not qualified for E-1/E-2 investor visas.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Nan Shen, Esq.
LAW OFFICES OF NAN SHEN
www.nanshenlaw.com
137. piano lesson 2014-07-14 05:07
I'm a OPT student just registered my home studio last week. Most of parents paid me in Cash, but couple of them paid in check and one student use DDD (Development Disability Department) funds. It requires me to have a business registration and liability insurance. Any recommendation for liability insurance? Is there anything I need to know for my small and home base business?
138. JC 2014-07-16 15:02
@piano lesson,
I know of some friend who have a home-based daycare business. The liability insurance was obtained together with her home insurance.
139. Carlos 2014-08-04 17:43
Hi,

I am currently a student (F-1 Visa) and I would like to start my own company within my career path. I want to start a Financial Holding Company where the corporation will be investing the capital of the entity. For obvious reasons, I was thinking in establishing a Corporation in Non-Us territory and a corporation as business structure so I will be a separated from the entity (as opposed to LLC). Furthermore, I will open a brokerage account in the U.S. with a U.S. service provider. However, as international corporation investing in the U.S. I will need to report to the IRS through the FATCA and FFI.

I was wondering if owning a Corporation with a foreign bank account, investment holdings in the U.S., and reporting to the IRS, will negatively influence my Student Visa and could lead to revocation?

Thanks in advance for your advice and eagerness to help.

Regards,

Carlos
140. nanshenlaw 2014-08-06 10:59
@Carlos,

How would you like to operate your foreign financial holding company? If you do have business within the U.S. under your F-1 status, you will be in danger of violation of immigration laws. The place of corporate formation is not a determining factor. Holding a brokerage account is fine.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Nan Shen, Esq.
LAW OFFICES OF NAN SHEN
www.nanshenlaw.com
141. Kevin 2014-08-13 17:32
Hi, I am from the UK here in the US on an E-2 visa working for a foreign company. I intend to keep working for that company and starting a side business. It would involve opening a business bank account and register a business address. I would then be an agent for a friend's business back in the UK and some US customers would use the US bank account. Is this allowed on my visa? Thanks!
142. nanshenlaw 2014-08-15 10:26
@Kevin,

It is not allowed. Just like H-1B, L-1 and other working visas, the EB-2 visa holder must work for the sponsor only.

Nan Shen, Esq.
LAW OFFICES OF NAN SHEN
www.nanshenlaw.com
143. August 2014-10-22 09:07
Hello, thank you so much for this article, it is very help full!

I am currently under a B-2 VISA and I am very interested in acquiring an existing vending machine route, I was wondering if that could provide me a working Visa somehow. By what I read here, if I put the business under my name, that's gonna be harder, or maybe not? I have a couple of very close American friends, who are willing to help me. If we put the route under their ownership, would they be able to sponsor a H1B Visa for me? I am worried that this would increase their taxes or create problems for them. Thanks in advance for your time.
144. JC 2014-10-23 09:07
@August, If you acquire a vending machine route through your LLC company, you still need to use your LLC company to apply for a work visa for yourself. That process might be difficult, as your company doesn't have a proven track record yet. In order to have your own company to sponsor your work visa, the company would need to be established and have profits I think.

Partnering with an American friend is a good idea, but again to apply for H1B, the company needs to be in a capacity to do so and be able to provide prevailing wage. Overall, I think it is less likely to get H1B with a new company.
145. August 2014-10-23 18:13
Thank you so much for your answer, it was very helpful.

I still own (and have no intention of selling my share so soon, my partner is taking care of the business) a restaurant in my home country. Would that qualify me to apply for a L1-A while acquiring the vending machine route, even though the restaurant and the route are not exactly the same kind of business? Or would I just qualify in case I was opening another restaurant in US (or acquiring an existing one) as an affiliate of the one overseas? Thank you again for your time. Best regards.
146. nwmlaw 2014-10-25 18:42
For L-1A your new company (the vending machine business) usually needs to be a direct subsidiary of your foreign company (the restaurant). Two companies simply owned by one person is not enough. You need to show that there's a need (for example, to expand market) for manager (you) to move from the foreign company to the U.S. company to take executive position.

For H-1B you need to be on a professional position (for example, manager may be OK, restaurant owner in the U.S. probably do not qualify), and there is no quota available now -- you will need to wait until April 1st, 2015 to apply, and the effective date will be on or after October 1st, 2015.

The above answer is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

New Weiming Law Group, PLLC
www.nwmlaw.com
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