I am currently on a student visa (F1) at a community college. About two years ago I was laid off from work. My former employer had filed for my H1B. After the lay off I did a change of status to be in status. I want to start business with an investor. I want to explore the opportunity of working for the business full time. I want to own the company and work for it.
P.S I want to know if I can start a company and sponsor my H1b to work for that company.
I was looking for an answer to the same question last September. I consulted an immigration attorney. Here are some points from my discussion that may help you.
As for me, I decided to wait a few months to see the progress in green card date and fortunately I am current, so I will wait before I step out on my own.
Yes and no, you can start a business. This can be a C corporation as it allows for foreign ownership.
Take this time to educate yourself business ownership in the USA. There is a wealth of information online.You maybe an out-of-status non-immigrant according to US immigration laws, so there are repercussions for that.
Read up on;
Investor Green card as well as Start-up Visa Act.
The investor Visa, requires having access significant capital to invest to start.
Hope this help you get started and good luck.
Based on the conditions of the visa you are in the US with, you can start a business. It is highly unlikly that you will be able to use that business to sponsor your H1b visa because you would not have the employer/employee relationship. As an equity owner you will be considered an owner receiving compensation rather than a pure employee. Your new business could sponsor a H1b visa-- just not yours.
Start-ups CAN become sponsoring business for a H1b visa. They have to meet all of the standard requirements of prevailing wage and such. They are put under additional scrutiny as to their viability. Proving that they have customers and sources of funds to secure the position of the HB1 visa holder. Depending on your total employment count, the start up also needs to ensure they don't become classified as HB1 dependent -- which triggers additional rules that make it difficult to hire the desired foreign national.
The bottom line is that the HB1 Visa is not intended to be a path to residency for an entrpreneur. Attempts to work around the system are rarely successful. Don't put your business, your clients, your family your friends and yourself at risk by not simply doing the right thing. (legal, legal intent)
It should also be noted that there is limited availability to the number of H1b visas, they are hard to get, and the window of availability is the days -- if not hours -- at the beginning of the 6 month period in which new slots are opened. It is rarely an effective strategy to staying in the country quick fast when other options have fallen through.
The fasted option will be the EB-5 Investor Visa. I wrote more about that above.
No matter what there is absolutly no way you can do any of this without the counsel of a qualified and experienced immigration attorney. Period. No exceptions. And they cost money.
As it's now clear that there is no straight forward way to file your own H1B visa for your own start-up, let me give you some more options you can look forward to in worst case scenario of not able to get any legal US visa.
Hope this helps.
Yesterday White House announced Initiatives to Promote Startup Enterprises and Spur Job Creation To accommodate that, Employer-Employee Relationship section was updated to reflect Single Owner company, so self-sponsored H1B is possible.
But, there is a catch which is answered in the FAQ's as follows
Q: The memorandum provides an example of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, would not establish a valid employer-employee relationship. Are there any examples of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, may be able to establish a valid employer-employee relationship?
A. Yes. In footnotes 9 and 10 of the memorandum, USCIS indicates that while a corporation may be a separate legal entity from its stockholders or sole owner, it may be difficult for that corporation to establish the requisite employer-employee relationship for purposes of an H-1B petition. However, if the facts show that there is a right to control by the petitioner over the employment of the beneficiary, then a valid employer-employee relationship may be established. For example, if the petitioner provides evidence that there is a separate Board of Directors which has the ability to hire, fire, pay, supervise or otherwise control the beneficiary, the petitioner may be able to establish an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary.
Now the challenges is to figure out how a single owner can have a board (or share holders) who can make hiring/firing decisions. I'm not aware of any corporate structure that will make this possible.
I would like to get others inputs on this new initiative.
Speak with a qualified, and talented immigration attorney. I am not one, and am not pretending to be one, though I have some experience with the US Visa system.
From what I know, two important points:
First, it sounds like you are trying to hack the US Visa/legal system. DON'T HACK THE LEGAL SYSTEM. If you are a foreign national, you could go to jail /lose your status/get deported even if you talk about hacking it to anyone other than a lawyer you've retained specifically for this purpose, because intentions matter in the legal world and they don't always matter in ways you can predict. Generally speaking, even when not talking about visas (which have additional risks, since your rights as a non-citizen are very different) hacking legal systems is looked on badly and often is considered criminal behavior.
Second, as far as I know, there is no currently legal way to do exactly what you're asking. Your question is a bit shaky on the details, and the details matter, but not too much. Your best bet is to:
I'm no expert but.... This could change from country to country.... Also, that being said, being the owner of a business is different from working in the business. I don't think you can sponsor yourself (or have your partner do it). You'd most likely have to go through other channels with proof of capital etc. etc.