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Immigration Issues/starting business in US on J-1 visa

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Question
Hi,
I am German and studied and have lived in the US for the past 13 years. Now I am full time employed under the regulations of Academic Training (which is still valid until May 2005).
I now have a great idea and would like to start an own business here in the USA. Am I allowed to do so (I am here still on a J-1 visa) and -if so - what are the options/limitations to continue my business after the J-1 status has expired?
Thanks so much for your valuable input,
Irmgard

Answer
Hi Irmgard,

Anyone in any status can open a business, but for you to be "employed" by this business an H-1B petition should be filed. The following excerpt from our website is helpful: http://www.h1b1.com/faq.htm#myself

CAN I SPONSOR MYSELF FOR THE H-1B VISA?

You must be sponsored by a "U.S. employer." What if you are the employer in the form of a company that you establish? INS regulations define employer as "a person or entity...who engages the services or labor of an employee to be performed in the United States for wages or other remuneration."

Since the H-1B petition must be approved prior to commencing employment, and it is difficult, although not impossible, for a "paper" company with zero employees and no income to be considered an employer capable of sponsoring an H-1B applicant, the dilemma to overcome is establishing a company with enough viability to be approved by the INS without technically being employed in the interim. One way to remain within the law is to establish a company with the help of other investors. The most conservative position is to be only a "passive investor" as opposed to exercising substantial decision-making power in the company. An individual cannot be accused of being employed without authorization if he or she is only a passive investor in the company that will sponsor him or her for the H-1B visa. To summarize, an individual cannot be "employed" until his or her employer petitions for and receives H-1B approval.


Regards,
Ajay K. Arora, Esq.
www.H1B1.com

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Ajay K. Arora

Expertise

I can answer your questions on employment and family-based U.S. Immigration Law. Expertise in various immigration categories includes the following: H-1B, L-1, O-1, PERM (labor certification), EB-1 to EB-3 I-140 employment-based immigrant petitions, family or fiance(e) or spousal sponsorship, visa extension or change of status, adjustment of status, naturalization (citizenship), etc.

Experience

Ajay K. Arora attended Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wales at Swansea (United Kingdom), and earned his law degree at Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, in 1993. Mr. Arora has practiced Immigration Law since graduation and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1995.

Organizations
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) full member since 1995.

Education/Credentials
Ajay K. Arora attended Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wales at Swansea (United Kingdom), and earned his law degree at Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, in 1993. Mr. Arora has practiced Immigration Law since graduation and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1995.

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