There is a lot of redtape for internation students to work in the US but there are ways to do it and it may take time and some money but it is not too expensive or impossible because even with an on-campus job which I am sure you should have/held at some point, you can get the right paperwork to get your doing business legally in the US.
1. Hope fully the business your are studying is withing the boundaries of what you studied in college. With that being said there is a loophole, there is no limitations as to how many jobs you can hold as legally, you can only hold a job that is related to your field of study. If one of the jobs is (could even be an unpaid internship) then you meet the conditions of an OPT ( OPT explained below).
In the mean time, do not wait to start your business; really if you have the means ($) and space to start your restaurent with your partner I would suggest to get along with it. Go to your local city council and register your business, get your licences because it is quite a process as you will find out they may need to inspect the space and the whole nine
2. While you are doing that, go to your school's International Students Office for advice on how to obtain what is called an OPT (I always mess up what the acronym stands for but they know what it is) status if you do not already know it/have not already started the process. It takes at most 3 months to get approved and costs about $350-400.
Once your OPT is approved you will receive a card in the mail without which an employer cannot hire you without presenting, but seeing that you are the business owner, here is a legal loophole lies a legal loophole;)
3. OPT status only lasts for 1 year and if you plan on traveling outside the country make sure the school issues you an updated I20 that will make sure your negotiating customs is smooth if you decide to leave and come back in the country.
4. While step 1,2,3 are going I would strongly suggest starting to apply for a greencard as well. OPT only lasts 1 year and the extension is not that long either but a green card allows a lot more business opportunity flexibility than your F1 status would. Personally I am on step 4. It takes about 3 years and I hope to hold one by the time I finish grad school. The good thing about a greencard is it offers your all the perks of a citizen, travel, business and property ownership without being a citizen especially if you are like me and have no intentions further than just business in the the US.
Like I said there is a lot of red tape if you are a foreigner but the earlier you start the process the better off you are and be thorough with documentation. It is better to overkill on paperwork than to be send back for lack of it as it makes processes that are already unecessarily long, longer.
I AM NOT A LAWYER, I AM SIMPLY GOING BY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, READ UP ON THIS STUFF AND LIASE WITH YOUR INTERNATIONAL OFFICE AND CROSS REFRENCE WHAT THEY TELL YOU WITH THEIR DOCUMENTS BECAUSE SOME OF THE OFFICERS ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH WHAT THE MATERIAL UNFORTUNATELY. READ UP ON OPTs AS WELL http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/opt.htm. I GRADUATED IN A BAD TIME FOR ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS AND COULD NOT FIND EVEN AN UNPAID INTERNSHIP SO BEING A FORMER PRO TENNIS PLAYER I STARTED MY OWN BUSINESS AND THINGS ARE NOT EASY BUT I AM OK AND SO WILL YOU BE.
Thank you very much for your reply, But I couldn't understand one thing in your point. Being a computer science major can I open a restaurant???
No, the OPT stipulations restrict you to work only in your field of study; seeing that you are opening your own business you do have the loophole to hire your self as the IT guy or the guy in charge of whatever has to do with computers in your new restaurent. Now if you are in a paid position some international student offices require you to submit paper work and pay stubs monthly for proof. Being the owner this should not be problematic if you get off the ground.
There is a lot of redtape like I said your hunger and drive will determine your success.
all the best!
although it would be better if you have that green card. As far as starting your own business I think you have the right to start one. The law stipulate that you do not need to be a citizen not even a Resident to start a business in the USA. But there is a catch.
you cannot just start a partnership or solepropriatorship . You have to start a Corporation ( C corp or general corporation , not S corporation), or an LLC.
In the corporation be the owner and only get your owner interest money, No official salaries. and you can define your involvement in the company as shareholder and maybe chairman, or advisor with no salary.
the reason you can start a Corporation or LLC is that by starting a corporation you are creating a new artificial person (a legal entity), that will have his own tax ID , tax etc...they are son considered as legal entity that the US supreme court just pass this law where it give authority to corporation to spend as much money as they want on a candidate because by being legal entity corporation as subject to free speech
so the government will deal with your coporation not you in essence. And off course since its a corporation if you want to work there and get a normal salary with payroll and stuff it will be like you trying to work in another company.
I was also an international student and created a Non profit corporation while I was student , and a full profit corporation.
That information you gave is great and I am glad thankful you are sharing it with me as well!
Being an international student he also has to abide by immigration laws. If he is going to be in the hospitality business his presence is also imparetive to run the place unless if he just becomes an investor instead. The alternative you gave would work if he was still in his freshman year with 4yrs academically under his belt but by the sound of his situation he is an F1 status who is just/about to graduate and without a valid visa/opt he will be in violation of his F1 visa status hence risks deportation or risk of a visa denial in the future by virtue of overstaying ones welcome especially now with the biometric/SEVIS immigration system and big brother laws whch are stringent.
A fellow countryman of mine overstayed his P1(10yr) visa granted mostly to athletes while he was about to take part in the US Open Tennis tournament. He was picked up by immigration for deportation and had to reaply while outside the country but he was fortunate because of his "familiar face/status" he got back in with a "strict" warning. Another pro athelet same scenario but not as recognizable facially/athletically he has been denied the visa twice now.
Your post very helpful. I am having the same issue. I graduated from college recently and can't find a job in my speciality. Thinking about opening my own business. You told sunny that he can just apply for green card, however you have to have a specific reason to apply for green card. What type of green card did you apply for? and what would you suggest to someone in my situation. What type of green card can I possibly apply for?
Any help will be appreciated.
Thanks a lot for your answer. I'm also an international student, just graduated and earned MBA degree. I'm currently in OPT period but haven't found a job yet. I'm also planning to open my own business here but dont know whether I'm allowed to do that. I've been told that in order to own an business and apply for a green card, you must at least invest 500 grands to 1mln and create certain number of jobs for local community. Can you please tell me how did you do to open an business and apply for green card? I'm already in the 4th month of my OPT period, do I have enough time to process this plan? Thanks a lot
Hello Sunny959 and All,
I have a same situation with you.
I have graduated Masters of Engineering Management.
I have applied for OPT and hoop fully I will receive it in 1 to 2 months.
I have greate opportinuty to become partnership of pizza store.
But, I am not sure If I can become a partnership of pizza store with my opt.
The gross profit of store is almost $50,000 a month.
Have you found any answer for your stuation or anyone has the answer my position?
I really need some help regarding my legal status. I completed my graduation very recently and I am planning to open a restaurant for myself with a partner. I need your advice about my visa status after I open it. Is it legal for me to open a business on my own?? or how is it gonna work??? please help me.....