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How to Start a Business with a F-1 Student Visa

Starting a Business as a F-1 Student under Optional Practical Training

F-1 students may engage in a period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completing a degree program in the U.S.  OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study.

In a recent USCIS engagement concerning the Entrepreneurs in Residence Program it was confirmed that  F-1 Students can use Optional Practical Training (OPT) to start a business in the U.S. and work as an employee even as the sole member of the business.

Under the old rule, OPT is granted for a 12 month period. Under the new rule, students that received a degree in a STEM eligible program qualify for a 17-month extension of post-completion OPT.  The STEM designated degree program list includes the following courses of study:

Computer Science Applications, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Actuarial Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Engineering, Military Technologies, Engineering Technologies, Physical Sciences, Science Technologies, and Medical Scientist.

Entrepreneurial students under OPT are eligible for H-1B employment through the newly formed business as long as an “employer-employee” relationship exits and all requirements are met under the H-1B program.

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