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I am a STEM major on OPT and the owner of a company. Do I qualify for a STEM extension?

Seattle, WA |

I graduated college and founded a company. I want to be able to stay and work for it but my OPT expires in 1 year. I wonder if I still qualify for a STEM extension if I'm the owner of my company?


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Attorney answers 3

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Let's assume you can extend your OPT under the STEM regulations. You'll still have to figure out what to do after your final OPT extension expires. You cannot run your own company as a self-employed professional in H-1B status so you'll have to see if you qualify for another visa (perhaps an investor visa, if a treaty exists between your country and the U.S.) or you'll have to transition your role as owner to employee to qualify for some of the non-immigrant employment visas (most of which require that an employer sponsor the beneficiary employee---no self-employment allowed).

This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, as the information provided is extremely limited and without the benefit of having all facts available.



Thanks! After the STEM extension expires, can I come back on tourist visa (to delegate work and build relationships, no heavy lifting)? I plan to have international subsidiaries anyways and I wonder if this will work.

Vidal Luis Cordova Jr.

Vidal Luis Cordova Jr.


Not if it considered "gainful employment," and that's a legal term that the government may interpret very ambiguously.


Is this company registered with e-verify?

Talk to your foreign student adviser ... self-employment is possible with OPT ... but not easy to do.

PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, keep in mind that this is an INTERNET BLOG. You should not rely on anything you read here to make decisions which impact on your life. Meet with an attorney, via Skype, or in person, to obtain competent personal and professional guidance.


Its time for a consultation with an attorney to make some longer term plans. As stated by Att. Cordova, in the meantime some likely categories to investigate are E, L, H, maybe O?

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