Can F1 Student Visa Holders be Self-Employed?


Let us define an F1 visa for the sake of people who do not know what an F1 visa is. The F1 visa is best described as a non-immigrant visa for students issued to foreign nationals who wish to register for higher studies in the United States.

Also, securing an F1 visa is a prerequisite if you wish to attend any university in the US, and must be gotten before you are allowed to enter the United States.

Generally, students are continuously in search of how to make more money either for sponsoring themselves or buying whatever they need. Students who have an F1 visa are not left out as they want to find out if they can be productive with their skills by being self-employed, that way, they can make more money.

In this article, we will be proving answers to your questions as well as telling you all you need to know about an F1 visa.  

Are there laws preventing F1 students from being Self-Employed?


Currently, there is no known law that states that a student who is in legal valid non-immigrant student status cannot start up his or her own business and this invariably answers the question of if an f1 student is permitted to be self-employed. 


However, the student cannot be an “employee” of his or her own business before graduation and if he or she is, then there will be payment of wages by the business. In this case, payment of wages means employment, and unless the student is given the approval to take such employment, such payment is not acceptable under the immigration law.

Moreover, the student will risk deportation if he/she breaks the terms and conditions of his or her student status.

How does a student establish and manage a business?

F1 students can include a business or potentially establish a Limited Liability Company even.

However, the best strategy is for the F1 student to use LLC to be a subsidiary of an overseas company, for instance, the student’s family should have a family business in a country outside of the United States.

That company may have a considerable number of shares in the United States company or even be a member in the United States company if the US company is a Limited Liability Company. That being said, an F1 student can proceed to establish a company, either as an LLC or as a corporation.


Furthermore, the student is expected to get the required certificate of incorporation and /or LLC organization, alongside the federal employer identification number (FEIN).

In addition to this, the company isn’t permitted to pay the student a salary or a wage as we earlier mentioned, unless the student is qualified to work for the company under his or her Curricular Practical Training.

A Summary Of Optional Practical Training (OPT)

It is defined as temporary employment that relates to the field of your studies. Qualified students are permitted to obtain up to 12 months of optical practical training employment.

There is an OPT known as pre-completion OPT which permits you to work for about 20 hours weekly, while there is another called Post-completion OPT where you can choose to work full-time, whichever way, F1 students require authorization from the respective DSO to confirm their OPT application.

What are the requirements for self-employment on OPT for F1 students?

Below are some of the important things you should know so that you will have sound knowledge about the numerous things that are required of you to be self-employed and not get lost while at it:

  • The first one is that you must have “the appropriate business licenses.” It implies that the student must establish a business, obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), and obtain all the required business licenses.
    • The amount and type of license issued will depend on the type of business that the student wants to begin. Most businesses don’t need extra licenses.
  • The second one is that the student must be in the business as a full-time personnel
  • The third one is that the business should be connected to the course you are studying.

F1 students on OTP through the self-employment option can have 12 months to grow their business in the U.S. They can utilize this opportunity to secure vital financing,  create a critical U.S market niche, or turn a business idea from dreams to the limelight.

Also, with the OPT self-employment option, the 90-day unemployment clock becomes invalid thereby enabling the students to stay in the U.S for the 12 months of the OPT duration.

Finally, a student who is naturally an entrepreneur with a determined spirit will surely consider being self-employed. With this article, you can see that F1 students can establish a business of their own with the OPT.

However, we advise you to be extremely careful and consult a qualified attorney when establishing your business to ensure that you make the appropriate selection and setup.

Also, immigration laws are not constant, therefore, you should know that it constantly changes, and It is best to keep in mind that immigration law constantly changes and it is good for you to be one.


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