Can You Do Business In the USA on Your Current Visa?
Hello, everyone. This is Rajiv S. Khanna for the Law Offices of Rajiv S. Khanna, P.C, immigration.com.
You can post comments and questions on immigration.com. I usually respond within three or four days, sometimes a week. I’m going to answer one of the questions someone asked us on immigration.com.
Can I start a business on an H-1 visa?
The bottom line is yes, as long as you are in a situation where, even though you are working for your own company, somebody in the company can file. It must be a true employer/employee relationship. How does that work? What if you have a board of directors or if you have a CEO to whom you report, even though you are a stockholder or maybe even you even have majority of stock in the company, but somebody in the company can file, you’re okay. USCIS has indicated that is their present stance. You must have an employer/employee relationship if you want to be able to start your own business on H-1.
In addition to that, remember H-1 is for a specific employer. So if you want to have a concurrent employment with your own company or you want to change companies and go over full time to your own company, you can do that, but you have to process a H-1, either a concurrent H-1 or a successive H-1. One of the things you need to remember is, if you own majority stock in the company, or if you have influence over the management of the company, it will be very difficult if not impossible for you to do a Green Card through PERM through your own company.
Where does that leave us? There’s a whole history behind this H-1. I won’t go through the history. USCIS has gone up and down. “You can do it.” “You cannot do it.” There is a whole history behind this. But the bottom line today is, you can do it, but it definitely requires some in-depth consulting with a lawyer. Make sure you are not getting into a situation which is going to hurt your stance.
Here is another question I get asked.
I have an EAD through 485. Can I now start my business?
Sure. On the side, you can, as long as you don’t leave your current job. But, remember, you will then no longer be on H-1. You will be on EAD if you start working for your own company.
I actually have a whole list of visas.
Can I do business on E-2?
Yes, of course. E-2 visas, which are treaty investor visas, are meant to do business. E-1, treaty trader, the same thing. But only a few countries in the world have a treaty with the United States to do E-1/E-2 visas, so you have to make sure that the country you come from has that.
If I’m here on a tourist visa or a B-1, which is called a business visa, can I do business?
The answer is, you can negotiate contracts, you can shake hands, and you can even set up a company, but, if you actively participate in business, you are violating the terms of B visa. B-1, which is the business visa, is a misnomer. You start thinking, I have business visa; maybe I can start a business. But you can’t do it on B-1.
Can I start a business on F-1 visa?
Of course not. You are a student.
What if I am on my optional practical training and I have my F-1 EAD?
Maybe, but only for the time you have the EAD. Again, that is something to be explored. Don’t just jump into it. Make sure you understand the ramifications of what you’re doing.
What about on a G visa?
On G-4, of course, the primary applicant of G-4 is engaged in working for a multinational organization such as the World Bank or the IMF. They cannot do business, but what about their dependents? I haven’t looked into it specifically. I suspect that they can, because they do get an EAD and that EAD is not confined to a specific purpose, but I would have to check on that. I’m just speaking off the top of my head. I was primarily answering the H-1 question, but I want to share with you what I know. So, G-4, probably yes.
H-4? Absolutely not.
H-1? As long as you can be fired.
I visa? No.
J-2 visa? Yes, as long as you have an EAD.
K visa? K visas are all work authorized, so, yes, you can do business.
L-1? No, because you’re working for a company.
L-2? Yes, because you get an EAD.
M Visa? No.
I went through the whole gamut, just to give you a rough idea; more so, to sensitize you to who can and who cannot do business.
Thank you for listening.
Automatic Visa Revalidation - Definition from Travel.state.gov
Re-entering the U.S. with a Valid I-94 Form & Expired Visa is Limited
What Is Automatic Revalidation?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the authority and the responsibility over the admission of travelers to the U.S. Under the automatic revalidation provision of immigration law, certain temporary visitors holding expired nonimmigrant visas who seek to return to the U.S. may be admitted at a U.S. port of entry by CBP, if they meet certain requirements, including, but not limited to the following:
Nonimmigrants who departed the U.S. for brief travel to Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island (for F and J nonimmigrants) for thirty days or less;
Nonimmigrants with a valid (unexpired) Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, endorsed by DHS.
More Information about Automatic Revalidation
For more information about automatic revalidation provisions and reentry to the U.S., visit the International Visitors webpage and the Automatic Revalidation Fact Sheet on the CBP website. Students and Exchange Visitors should review additional important information about travel outside the U.S. and reentry procedures on the DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website.
Automatic revalidation is not the same as applying for a new visa. If you apply for a new nonimmigrant visa, you cannot take advantage of automatic revalidation.
Who Must Reapply for and Be Reissued a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate?
This webpage explains which travelers must reapply and be reissued visas when their existing visas have expired, even if they are in possession of valid I-94 forms, in order to gain admission to reenter the U.S.
Many nonimmigrants will need to reapply and be reissued visas to reenter the U.S. when their existing visas have expired, even if they are in possession of valid I-94 forms, because automatic revalidation applies to limited categories of travelers. Refer to the Automatic Revalidation Fact Sheet on the CBP website. The following temporary visitors whose nonimmigrant visas have expired, but who have valid I-94 forms, must reapply for and be issued nonimmigrant visas prior to their reentry to the U.S., if one or more of the following situations exists (this is not a complete listing):
The nonimmigrant traveler with an expired nonimmigrant visa (but valid Form I-94):
Applied for a new visa which has not yet been issued;
Applied for a new visa and was denied;
Has been outside of the United States for more than thirty days;
Has traveled to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or an adjacent island which is not included in the automatic revalidation provisions;
Is a national of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designated country, including Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan. Review more about State Sponsors of Terrorism and FAQs on this website;
Is in possession of an F student visa or J exchange visitor visa and has traveled to Cuba;
Is in possession of an M student visa and has traveled to a location outside the U.S., other than Canada and Mexico.
Additional Resources – Laws
The automatic revalidation provision of U.S. immigration law is described in both 8 CFR 214.1(b) and 22 CFR 112(d).
We Want You to Know
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Iraqis & Afghans-SIV
Business Visa Center
Customer Service Statement to Visa Applicants