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Can F1 students be Self-Employed?

People who are entrepreneurs often ask questions of if F1 students can be self-employed and want to know they can get make more money as a result of their skill, and how that can be possible with their F1 Visa. This article presents you with the answer to whether or not you can be self-employed as an F1 student.

Is there a law prohibiting F1 students from been Self-Employed?

There is no law that says that a student who is in legal valid non-immigrant student status from starting up his or her own business and this answers the question of can f1 students be Self-Employed.

But, the student must still be in a valid student status, who is registered as a full-time student, or be between semesters.

Another thing to know is whether the student will receive any remuneration from the business. Before graduation, the student cannot be an “employee” of his or her own business.

If he or she was an is, then there will be payment of wages by the business
Payment of a wage signifies employment, and unless the student is granted permission to accept such employment, such payment is prohibited under the immigration law.

And If the student violates the terms and conditions of his or her student status, he or she will fall out of status and potentially face removal (deportation).

What is an F1 Visa?

The F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for students given to foreign nationals, for those who wish to enroll for higher studies in the United States.

How does a student set up and operate a business?

F1 students can incorporate a business or potentially even set up an LLC.
The preferred method can be for the F1 students to use LLC to be a subsidiary of an overseas company, for example, the student’s family should have a family business in another country.

That company may hold a large number of shares in the US company or might be a member in the US company if the US company is an LLC. F1 students can go further to set up a company, either as a corporation [sub-chapter “S” is not permissible as all shareholders must be either U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents] or as an LLC.

The student would get the necessary certificate of incorporation and /or LLC organization, and the federal employer identification number (FEIN).
More so, as mentioned before, the company isn’t supposed to pay the student a salary or a wage unless the student is authorized to work for the company under his or her CPT (Curricular Practical Training).

For you to be able to attend a university in any university in the US, the applicant must secure the F1 visa to be able to enter the United States
Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training is temporary employment that connects to the field of your studies. Students who are eligible are allowed to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment. Pre-completion OPT allows you to work for up to 20 hours a week, while you can choose to work full-time on Post-completion OPT. F1 students need approval from the respective DSO for endorsing their OPT application.

Requirements for self-employment on OPT for F1 students

To have a piece of good knowledge about the various things that are required to be self-employed and not be lost while going on it, there are some important things that you need to know:

  • Firstly, you must have “the proper business licenses.” This means that the student must form a business, secure a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), and get all the necessary business licenses.
    • The amount and type of license give will be based on the type of business that the student will want to start. Many businesses do not require additional licenses.
  • Secondly, The student must be in the business as a full time personal
  • Thirdly, the business should be in line with your course of study. These requirements can be very limiting for a student with OPT.

For the F1 students on OPT, the self-employment option gives the student 12 months to establish and grow his or her business in the U.S. This gives the student enough time to develop a critical U.S market niche, secure vital financing, or turn a business idea from concept to reality.

OPT self-employment stops the 90-day unemployment clock. This makes it available for the student to remain in the U.S for the 12 months of the OPT duration


Naturally, a student who is an entrepreneur and has the spirit for it would definitely be considering self-employment and therefore should take note of this article. And it is very possible for F1 students to start their own business with the OPT. But it is important to be careful and consult a qualified attorney both in the setting up of the business and to ensure that the correct selection and set-up. It is best to keep in mind that immigration law constantly changes and it is best to always stay informed. Goodluck.

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