Discover if You Can Start an LLC While in the US on an H1B Visa

If you’re an H-1B visa holder with entrepreneurial dreams, you might wonder if it’s possible to start your own Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the United States. The answer is “Yes, it’s possible!” But, the process has some nuances and considerations you should be aware of. 

Read on to explore how you can make your entrepreneurial aspirations come to life while complying with visa regulations.

What Is an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa category in the United States designed for foreign nationals with specialized skills and expertise to work temporarily in certain occupations. It’s a popular choice for employers seeking highly skilled talent in fields like technology, engineering, healthcare, and finance.

H-1B visa holders are typically employed in “specialty occupations,” which require a specific skill set and often involve roles that demand a higher level of education or expertise. These can include software developers, engineers, healthcare professionals, financial analysts, and scientists. 

H-1B visas are primarily sought after by professionals in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields due to the high demand for specialized skills in these industries.

While the H-1B visa is a valuable opportunity for skilled workers, it does come with certain limitations. H-1B visa holders are tied to their sponsoring employer and the specific job role for which their visa was approved. 

Changing employers or job roles can be complex and typically requires a new H-1B visa application. Additionally, H-1B visas have a maximum duration of six years, with the possibility of extension under certain circumstances.

When it comes to starting an LLC as an H-1B visa holder, it’s important to understand that your primary employment should align with your visa sponsorship. Any income generated from the LLC must be secondary to your primary employment, and the LLC cannot engage in activities that are not related to your field of expertise. 

Therefore, H-1B visa holders can indeed start an LLC, but it must be managed within the constraints of their visa status to remain compliant with U.S. immigration laws.

What Is an LLC?

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a flexible and widely used business structure in the United States. It combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a sole proprietorship or partnership. This means that LLC owners, often called members, enjoy personal liability protection while benefiting from the simplicity and tax advantages of a partnership.

Can an H1B Visa Holder Start an LLC? Here’s How:

Starting an LLC as an H-1B visa holder is possible, but it involves navigating some complexities. You can begin the process by following these general steps:

1. Choose a State

Select the state in which you want to form your LLC. Typically, it’s advisable to choose the state where you reside or plan to conduct business.

2. Choose a Name

Select a unique and legally compliant name for your LLC. Ensure it’s not already in use and meets the state’s naming requirements.

3. Appoint a Registered Agent

Designate a registered agent in the chosen state who will receive legal documents on behalf of the LLC.

4. File Formation Documents

Prepare and file the necessary formation documents, which often include Articles of Organization, with the appropriate state agency. You’ll need to pay the associated filing fees.

5. Create an Operating Agreement

While not always required by law, it’s wise to create an Operating Agreement that outlines the LLC’s management structure, member responsibilities, and operational guidelines.

6. Obtain an EIN

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This is essential for tax purposes.

7. Comply with Visa Restrictions

Ensure that your LLC activities align with your H-1B visa status. Your primary employment should remain your main focus, and any income generated from the LLC should be secondary to your primary employment.

Starting a business while on an H-1B visa requires careful adherence to U.S. immigration laws. Any deviation from your approved employment, including significant involvement in the LLC, can have immigration consequences. Consult an immigration attorney to navigate the legalities and understand your specific situation.

Can an H-1B Holder Retain Their LLC if They Leave the United States?

Yes, H-1B visa holders can retain ownership of their LLCs even if they leave the United States. The LLC is a separate legal entity, and your immigration status doesn’t impact your ownership. However, managing the LLC from abroad may have practical and tax implications, so it’s advisable to seek legal and tax advice in such cases.

Can an H-1B Holder Transfer Their LLC Ownership to Others?

Yes, H-1B holders can transfer ownership of their LLCs to others, such as family members or trusted individuals. This process typically involves amending the LLC’s operating agreement and updating ownership records with the state. Seek legal guidance to ensure a smooth and compliant transfer.

Can an H-1B Holder Dissolve Their LLC and Start Another Business in the Future?

Yes, H-1B holders can dissolve their LLCs and start another business in the future. Dissolving an LLC involves specific legal procedures, which vary by state. Once dissolved, you’re free to pursue new business ventures. For a detailed guide on closing an LLC, refer to this resource

Benefits and Opportunities of Starting an LLC for H-1B Visa Holders

Starting an LLC as an H-1B visa holder can offer several benefits and opportunities, such as:

  • Limited Liability: LLC members enjoy limited personal liability, which means that their personal assets are generally protected from business debts and lawsuits. This can provide peace of mind and financial security.
  • Pass-Through Taxation: LLCs are not subject to double taxation like corporations. Instead, profits and losses pass through to the members’ personal tax returns, potentially resulting in lower overall taxes.
  • Entrepreneurial Pursuits: H-1B visa holders can explore their entrepreneurial aspirations by starting and owning a business. This allows them to diversify their income sources and pursue their passions.
  • Business Flexibility: LLCs offer flexibility in terms of management structure and decision-making, allowing H-1B holders to adapt the business to their preferences.
  • Additional Income: Income generated from the LLC can supplement the primary employment income, helping H-1B holders save and invest for the future.

Things to Consider When Starting an LLC as an H-1B Visa Holder

While starting an LLC is an enticing opportunity, H-1B visa holders must consider several factors. These factors include:

  • Visa Compliance: Maintaining compliance with H-1B visa regulations is crucial. Your primary employment should remain your top priority, and any involvement in the LLC must align with your visa status.
  • Ownership Restrictions: H-1B visa holders cannot have an active role in the day-to-day operations of the LLC beyond their primary employment. This limitation can affect the level of control you have over the business.
  • Income Limitations: Income from the LLC should be secondary to your primary employment income. Earning significant income from the LLC may raise concerns about visa compliance.
  • Tax Implications: LLC income may be subject to self-employment taxes, which can impact your overall tax liability. Consult a tax professional for guidance.
  • Legal Advice: Given the complexities involved, it’s best to seek legal counsel and possibly immigration advice to ensure full compliance with U.S. laws and regulations.
  • Business Management: Consider how you will manage the LLC while fulfilling your primary job responsibilities. It may require careful time management and delegation of tasks.

How to Start an LLC if You’re a Noncitizen?

Starting an LLC in the United States as a noncitizen is possible and can even complement your pursuit of an H-1B visa. Here are the steps to consider:

1. Legal Structure

First, determine the legal structure you want for your LLC. Most noncitizens opt for a single-member LLC, but you can also have multiple members if you have business partners.

2. Choose a State

Select the state where you want to form your LLC. Many choose the state in which they reside, but some states have more favorable tax or regulatory environments for businesses.

3. Choose a Registered Agent

You’ll need a registered agent in the state where you form your LLC. A registered agent is responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of your business.

4. Name Your LLC

Choose a unique and legally compliant name for your LLC. Ensure it’s distinguishable from other businesses in your chosen state.

5. File Formation Documents

Prepare and file the necessary formation documents with the state’s Secretary of State office. These documents typically include Articles of Organization. You may also need to pay filing fees.

6. Operating Agreement

Although not always required, it’s advisable to create an Operating Agreement that outlines the management structure and member responsibilities of your LLC.

7. Obtain an EIN

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This number is necessary for tax purposes.

8. Visa Status Consideration

If you’re planning to sponsor yourself for an H-1B visa, it’s crucial to ensure that your LLC activities align with the visa requirements. The primary focus of your H-1B status should remain your employment with the sponsoring company. The income from the LLC should be secondary and supplementary to your primary employment.

9. Legal and Immigration Advice

Seek legal counsel, especially if you plan to sponsor yourself for an H-1B visa. The immigration process can be complex, and you’ll want to ensure that your LLC activities are compliant with U.S. immigration laws.

10. Taxation

Understand the tax implications of your LLC, especially as a noncitizen. Consult with a tax professional to ensure you’re meeting your tax obligations.

The Path to Success With doola By Your Side

Starting an LLC as a noncitizen, especially while pursuing an H-1B visa, is indeed feasible but requires thorough planning and adherence to both business and immigration regulations. It offers opportunities for entrepreneurial endeavors and income diversification. However, it’s essential to prioritize compliance with visa requirements, manage your business activities effectively, and seek legal and tax guidance.

If you’re considering starting an LLC, whether you’re a noncitizen or a U.S. resident, remember that proper financial management is crucial. For your bookkeeping needs and financial guidance, consider partnering with doola. Their expertise can help ensure your LLC’s financial health and legal compliance throughout your entrepreneurial journey. 


Do you need to inform your employer if you want to start an LLC as an H-1B visa holder?

Yes, it’s advisable to inform your employer if you plan to start an LLC as an H-1B visa holder to ensure transparency and compliance with visa regulations.

Are there any limitations on the type of business an H-1B visa holder can start?

H-1B visa holders can start an LLC, but the business activities should align with their specialty occupation and visa status.

Can an H-1B visa holder be the sole owner of an LLC?

Yes, an H-1B visa holder can be the sole owner of an LLC, and it’s a common choice for many entrepreneurs.

How can you get income from your own company while on an H-1B visa?

H-1B visa holders can receive income from their LLC, but it should be secondary to their primary employment income, and they must ensure compliance with visa regulations.

Can an H-1B visa holder apply for a separate Tax Identification Number (TIN) for their LLC?

Yes, an H-1B visa holder can apply for a separate Tax Identification Number (TIN) for their LLC, which is often advisable for tax and financial management purposes.

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