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Can F1 Visa (International student) start a business in USA?

Ann Arbor, MI |

I am international student on F1 VISA studying in UOM, MI. I want to know if i can start a business (being a passive owner). I will not work for the company though. Is it legal to invest money starting a business? I also want to know if I can enjoy the profits i make in the business. If the answer for the above questions is yes, do i require a SSN or ITIN? Please advice.

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Attorney answers 3


Generally FI visa do not allow you to work in the US..

However, if it is totally passive income I believe you can and you will require an ITIN..

Please note that I answered this question with general knowlege of the law and with limited disclosure from you, my answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and I cannot be held responsible for how you, the asker, use the information provided. If you want to contact me directly and retain my services you may through my listing on this site or at 248-901-0750 or


Almost certainly, you can not but I recommend that you seek the counsel of a competent immigration attorney. There are several in Dearborn. Best of luck - Reese Serra

This advise is only being offered as a courtesy. We do not have an attorney-client relationship and I do not represent you.


Deriving income inside the U.S. as a "business owner" is "not passive." I believe that you cannot take action to become a business owner, while a student.

You can only derive income from investments and activities related to approved curricular or optional practical training. You should fall out of F-1status as a business owner, where the DHS learns of the situation.

Again, deriving income as a stockholder is arguably a different situation. If you engage in work, such as incorporate or seek a business license, then you are working. If you have concerns, then I recommend an appointment with a competent and experienced immigration attorney.

This is general information, not legal advice, and does not create an attorney client relationship.

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