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Can a Canadian start a company in the US, then legally hire himself as an engineer and be under the TN work visa?

San Francisco, CA |

I'm a Canadian citizen with engineering degrees and I want to start a company in the US. I want to be able to raise money for the company while developing the product and being paid a small salary (as the CTO). The E-2 visa is not an option for me.

If I am the owner (or a co-owner) of the company, would I be able to hire myself as an engineer so that I could legally work for the company and live in the US? If not, then I don't see how I can start the company in the US while actively growing the company.

Thank you.

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Attorney answers 6


The company that you start may sponsor you into the US, but you need to show that it made this decision independently: the company has to have a board of directors to make decisions, etc. Likely, you will need to have a parent company in the US....You should speak with an immigration attorney.

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Probably not, as self employment is prohibited.

J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.



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Technically the company is a separate legal entity from yourself but TN's are not allowed to be independent contractors. Safest woudl be to put the company in the name of an LPR or USC to sign your employer papers or handle it as an E-2.

Lynne R. Feldman, Attorney at Law
Concentrating in Immigration Law

2221 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 201
San Diego, CA 92108 | (619) 299-9600
Fax: (619) 923-3277

Former Adjunct Professor -- Immigration law
University of Illinois College of Law


Hi there,

It is not possible to start a company and sponsor yourself through it. You may have other options though. See a FAQ I answered previously.

Good luck!


Business Immigration Attorney. For H, L, J, EB5s, PERM and EB1/2/3 Petitions. Call 800-688-7892 or visit Law Office of Anu Gupta. The advice suggested here is for general information only and not to be construed as legal advice.

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