A person in the U.S. on an H-1B Visa can start a business, but is very limited in the role they can take within the company. The H-1B visa, a non-immigrant visa, means that the terms for the person to stay in the U.S. require them to be working in a specialized position for a sponsoring company.
Can an H-1b Visa Holder Start a Business?
- You can attempt to start a C corporation or Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) and then get your own company to sponsor you on an H-1B visa, but doing this is very difficult, and contingent upon many complicated rules.
- You are able to get the business started by incorporating it.
- You can open a business checking account.
- You can apply for a tax number.
- You can start a company, but you cannot do actual work for business. Under no circumstances can you do anything that could be construed as work. This includes things as mundane as stocking the break room or taking out trash, and as big as figuring out payroll or overseeing day to day operations.
- You cannot receive a salary from your company. You can however receive profits and dividends
- You will essentially have to take on the role of a partner or investor in your business. You will not be able to take on the role of an employee.
- You must hire a manager and staff to run your company as you will not be allowed to do so. You can help appoint a board of directors. This will enable you to at least guide the company a bit, even if it is from the outside.
How to Start Your Company Being On H1
- Decide if you are going to attempt to start a C corporation, an LLC, or act as simply a partner or investor in your company.
- If you decide to start a C corporation, or an LLC complete the necessary steps to transfer your H-1B to your company
- If you choose to be a partner or investor, incorporate your business, and work to get your tax id and business accounts in order
- Hire a staff to manage and run your new company. Remember, you cannot do any work. Even if you do it on a voluntary basis, it is still illegal.
- If you really want to be able to work for your company, start the process to obtain a different sort of visa that will allow this, such as an E-2 treaty investor visa. Be aware this can be a long and difficult process and requires a substantial investment into the business.
It is possible for an H-1B visa holder to start a business, but they will be unable to participate in the day to day operations.