If someone with the F-1(student) or the F-2(Student's dependent) visa is in the US. how can he establish a company in the US?

Can he do it standalone(I mean register a company with his own with no more guys in the company) or he must hire another person as the new company's CEO or other staffs?

Also I like to know should he pay a minimum specified wage to the nec company's CEO or he can just ask a friend to use his name and don't pay him at all?

  • Be very very careful. F-1 visas don't allow any employment except on the campus of the university that issued the I-20 Form (except possibly for summers when school is not in session) and F-2 visas prohibit all employment. You are thinking of establishing a company and running a business which would be a violation of the conditions of your visa. Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 20:51
  • @DilipSarwate: No, actually I am looking to find an indirect way to handle the business legally.
    – GoodMan
    Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 20:59
  • 2
    Is your intention to do work for this company? Because that's almost certain to violate your visa. If your intention is to start a business where you have 0 involvement, you'd really want to sit down with an expert to talk through the requirements and discuss what documentation you'd need to prove you weren't violating your visa requirements. It sounds, though, like you're trying to start a business that you'd actually operate which is almost certainly not possible given your visa. Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 21:15
  • 3
    So it sounds like you want to have some level of ongoing involvement in the business. That's almost certainly not going to fly given your visa. Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 21:29
  • 3
    Most likely, you can't start the company you want to start given the visa type you're on. You'd need to find a way to change the type of visa you're on. If you want to exhaust the possibilities, though, you could sit down with an immigration lawyer and see if there are avenues open to you. I'm certainly not an immigration expert so it wouldn't shock me if there was some loophole somewhere. But the basic intent of the F-1 and F-2 visa types would prevent you from starting a business that you intend to actively run while you're in the US. Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 11:23

2 Answers 2


You can start the company. The problem is that the moment you take any action to work for the company that you've started you're almost certainly going to violate the terms of your visa.

F-2 visa holders aren't allowed to work at all. F-1 visa holders are allowed to work during the term at most 20 hours a week at an on campus job after their first year of study. It is highly unlikely that a company you found would be considered such an on campus job. The purpose of the rules is to ensure that the visa holders are actually here to study not to work and that they're devoting their energies to their studies not to building a start up. If you want to actually work for the company you're starting, you'd need to adjust your visa status (i.e. to H-1B). Or you'd need to complete your studies, return home, and start the US based company remotely.

  • Thank you Justin. You said I can go home and start the US base company remotely. What does it mean? Why I can not start the company remotely while I am inside the US. What is the difference?
    – GoodMan
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 3:29
  • @GoodMan As I read the answer, starting the company isn't the problem. But whether the company is started from within the US or remotely, your visa won't allow you to work for it while you are in the US.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 10:42
  • @TripeHound: That's OK. My new question is, if is it legally to start a company(LLC), can I do it alone? Or I must add some other shareholders to the company? If I can do it alone, can I hire someone else as CEO but not a shareholder to do all the works in the company legally?
    – GoodMan
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 16:58
  • @GoodMan That would, indeed, be a new question (assuming it's not already been asked/answered).
    – TripeHound
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 17:10
  • @TripeHound: In fact it's the second part of my primary question above: "Can he do it standalone(I mean register a company with his own with no more guys in the company) or he must hire another person as the new company's CEO or other staffs?"
    – GoodMan
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 17:13

Anyone in the world can start a US company, as long as their country isn't on the "US government hates us" list.

Stripe's Atlas product is specifically intended for non-US founders.

Your visa questions are off-topic for Personal Finance.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .