Is it illegal for him to work at all?
Certainly not without a "work" visa such as H-1B or even J-1. Realistically it will be near impossible to obtain unless the job offer will be in a position that requires someone with a university degree, etc.
For someone admitted under visitor status to accept employment or to work , whether paid or unpaid is a a activity in violation of the visa status under which he was admitted into the country and is grounds for immediate removal.
If he is going to work for the company, he will need a work visa. A common nonimmigrant work visa form entrepreneurs in the U.S. is the E2, if he is from a country that has an E treaty from the US and the investment otherwise qualifies. If its a large investment of $500K or more, then he might want to consider the EB5 although that means he will want to immigrate to the U.S., get a greencard, etc.. Much bigger commitment than the E2. There are other visas, like L and H which might also fit as a work visa. If he really wants to come in and work for the company, you really need to set up a consultation with an attorney that can present all the options according to his and your short/long term plans for your U.S. business.
Any foreign national coming to the US to work must be work authorized. There are quite a few work visas, nonimmigrant and immigrant. What visa type is available and most appropriate for your colleague depends on his unique situation. We represent entrepreneurs coming to the US to start or expand their business, including handling the immigration aspects. He will want to consult with a competent attorney to obtain a thorough assessment of his options, the pros and cons, and the best way for proceeding, given his longer term goals.
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