Skip to main content

International Students and Entrepreneurship

It is important to think about immigration implications if you are in the U.S. as an international student and you want to start or run your own business. U.S. Immigration considers most entrepreneurship to be “work” even if you are not yet personally earning money from the venture. That means that appropriate U.S. employment authorization is needed for most of the entrepreneurship activity you do while you are physically present in the U.S., including starting any type of U.S. business. In addition, you would need a U.S. employment authorization to work remotely for your non-U.S. business. You need employment authorization even if you do all your work from an on-campus location or through an on-campus entrepreneurship class or project.

U.S. Immigration takes employment authorization very seriously. Working without appropriate authorization can have long-term negative consequences. If you aren’t sure about whether your business development and entrepreneurial activities might need U.S. employment authorization, please consult an experienced immigration attorney.

Entrepreneurship Internships or Coursework

If your work is related to your field of study, then employment authorization options for F-1 student visa holders include Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Both these types of employment authorizations are of limited duration and may be restricted to less than 20 hours per week while you are completing your degree. The Center for Global Education can advise on both of these employment authorization options.

Some of the Venture College entrepreneurial programs may be eligible for academic internship credit. If so, CPT may be a great short-term employment authorization if your business is related to your program of study. J-1 students may be able to pursue Academic Training (AT) for these types of programs during their academic study at Boise State University.

Additional Resources

Study in the States – F-1 students and Entrepreneurship

U.S. Alliance for International Entrepreneurs

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Student Employment

Boise State University Venture College