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I started a business on a J2 visa, now I'm an F1. Can I work for it, and if not, what can I do to earn money?

Indianapolis, IN |

I founded an LLC when I was in J-2 status. My parents received green cards, but I didn't benefit from this and so had to change status from J-2 to F-1. I started developing my business, but I found out that F-1s have to file for a CPT/OPT and generally can't be "self-employed."

I have a SSN, I've lived in USA for more than 10 years, so I'm not like most F-1s. I'm wondering if my F-1 status is preventing me from working for my own company.

My questions are:
1) How can I legally work for my company?
2) Can I work for a foreign company?
3) What are ways I can earn money? F-1s can earn passive income, I believe. What are the limits to this?
4) Can I hire someone else to run my company and earn through profit sharing?
5) If I do #4, do I have to defer my income until I get my GC?

Thanks!

Attorney Answers 2


  1. You cannot work in F-1 status unless it is authorized by the school as part of CPT or OPT. Your really need to speak with an immigration lawyer to analyze your options. Your situation is complicated so you should not rely on any advice in a free forum such as this one. You may be able to switch to a different status such as E-2, if that is appropriate. This would allow you to run your own business in the US.


  2. I agree with the lawyer, it is a complicate issue that cannot be adressed adequately addressed in this forum and all the answers she has given you.
    Additional point to bear in mind is tha you might still be subject to the 2year foreign residency requirement and it is strongly advisable to contact an immigration lawyer for full assessement.

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