August 20, 2021
F-1 international students may start a business subject to immigration rules and guidance from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). However, a student requires employment authorization to operate the business and to maintain F-1 status. Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides appropriate employment authorization for starting a business. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “a student on OPT may start a business and be self-employed” provided they can prove that they have the proper business licenses and are actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program. Thus, F-1 international students with OPT work authorization can open a U.S. business in compliance with all immigration rules.
持F-1签证的国际学生可以在符合学生和交流访问者计划 (SEVP) 的移民规则和指导原则之下，在美国创业。但请注意，国际学生必须要有工作许可授权，才能合法的经营自己的事业与维持有效的F-1签证。在可选实务训练(OPT)阶段时，学生会被授权工作许可，此时就是创业的好时机。根据美国国土安全部的说法：“OPT 的学生可以创业并自雇(“Self-employed”)，前提是他们可以证明他们拥有适当的营业执照且创建的事业类型与学生主修课程相关“。依此，拥有 OPT 工作授权的 F-1 国际学生可以在符合所有移民规则的情况下开设美国企业。
Though students are not prohibited from investing in a business, they are prohibited from operating their own business without work authorization. Students can invest in the market or their own business; however, profits will be taxable. There might be immigration implications if they were engaged in their own business in violation of rules applicable to student employment.
So, students must keep in mind the fact that, though they can invest, conduct preliminaries of starting the business such as writing a business plan, researching the market, they are not authorized to engage in their own business or operate the business without obtaining proper work authorization, they cannot engage in and operate the business without work authorization.
F-1 international students can use their work authorization received in CPT to start their own business. However, the business should be in the student’s field of study for that a CPT is required and for that student to earn the number of credits. The student needs to comply with other CPT requirements. This type of employment must be done before graduation. If a student accumulates more than 12 months of CPT authorization, she or he will lose the ability to apply for OPT.
因此，请注意，虽然学生可以投资事业，进行创业的前期准备，比如写商业计划，研究市场，但在成立事业后，若没有获得适当的工作许可授权，学生无权从事自己事业的日常业务经营。 F-1 国际学生可以使用他们在课程实务训练(CPT) 中获得的工作授权来创业。但该事业必须与学生的学习领域相关并且确实符合CPT授权的要求与学分的要求。在此情况下，学生必须在遵循所有CPT规定的情况下创业。此时，学生是在毕业前创业并自雇。若学生的CPT授权多于12个月，则学生将可能失去毕业后进行OPT的机会。
OPT is similar to CPT in that it authorizes international students to work for their own business, provided the business is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program. Students must obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before starting their self-employment.
与CPT相似，学生在OPT阶段同样会被授权工作许可并经营自己的事业，但前提是该事业必须要与学生的学习主修领域相关联。学生必须在开始工作前取得工作授权卡（Employment Authorization Document (EAD)，俗称「工卡」）。
An F-1 student in the first 12 months of post-completion OPT work authorization cannot be unemployed for more than an aggregate total of 90 days. Hence, this option would come in handy for entrepreneurial F-1 students who want to work on their businesses. It is also an option for students who could not find employment during the early stages of their OPT period.
Since OPT has a limited validity period, international students on an F-1 visa might wonder about their options as to what to do with their business once their work authorization ends. So, it is in their best interest to explore possibilities while running their business during their authorized OPT validity period. They should explore the options of what is the process to close it, sell it, or whether they want to continue to manage the business from outside the U.S. after their exit from the U. S., or they can explore the possibility of changing their visa status in an appropriate visa category that would allow them to stay and continue their business in the U. S.
由于 OPT 的效期有限，持有 F-1 签证的国际学生可能必须提前规划工作许可期间到期后，他们该如何处理企业业务。因此，在OPT效期内学生最好尽早开始探索各种可能性。例如企业法方面关于出售或结束企业的流程与可能性，或在移民法方面关于其他签证的申请方式与要件，以期能够继续合法的在美国经营自己的事业。
Yen-Yi Anderson, Managing Partner of Anderson & Associates, founded the law firm in January 2014. Yen-Yi Anderson focuses her practice on excellence in business immigration, commercial law, and civil litigation.