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Can Entrepreneurs Qualify for H-1B Visas?

Posted January 22, 2015Matthew Meltzer Articles, Entrepreneurship, H-1B

Congratulations, you have started a company and you are following your dreams of entrepreneurship. Are you eligible for an H-1B visa? The answer is likely yes, but it is complicated.

To qualify, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Work in a position that requires a bachelor's degree.
  • Have at least a bachelor's degree in a field that relates to the position.
  • Pay the prevailing wage based on data set by the Department of Labor.

The wage is not a negotiable element; you cannot make up for the value of the salary in equity. Rather, the company must be able to pay the full salary. 

There are additional obstacles for entrepreneurs, especially when dealing with young businesses.

You must be prepared to demonstrate the business is operational and has enough work for you to do. I generally recommend having the following documents available:

  • Articles of organization.
  • FEIN assignment letter from IRS.
  • Valid business licenses.
  • Contracts with clients.
  • Lease for office space.
  • Marketing materials.

Lastly, there is the issue of ownership. The H-1B visa requires an employer-employee relationship between the company and the H-1B employee. If you are an entrepreneur, you probably sought out that life in part to be your own boss. Unfortunately, that is insufficient for the purposes of the H-1B visa. 

If you are a minority owner in the company you have nothing to worry about as you do not financially control the company alone. However, if you own a majority of the shares of the company you must insulate yourself as an employee by creating a board of directors that has the authority to fire you. Without this level of reporting you will not qualify for H-1B status as an employee of your company.