While in School

Students in F-1 status are able to launch new businesses. Students may not be paid by US companies without work authorization. However, students can file paperwork to start new businesses and take equity in businesses. As board members and investors in companies F-1 students may advise companies on strategy, product development, marketing, and other business issues.

Regular OPT

Students graduating from US educational programs granting an Associate’s degree or higher are eligible for one year of OPT work authorization with any company. This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs as graduates in their first year of OPT can work for any US company, including their own. In addition, there are no salary requirements for the first year of OPT.

Stem OPT

Graduates of STEM programs are eligible for a two year extension of OPT. In order to qualify the company employing the individual must participate in the E-Verify program. The individual must also file Form I-983 with his/her school. In order to qualify for STEM OPT entrepreneurs should work closely with their schools, as the following elements must be present:

  • A salary
  • Supervision by someone at the company. This could be a board member.
  • A training program.
  • An individual who can evaluation the employee’s performance.