As an international student in the US, your aspirations may extend beyond studying abroad. Fortunately, there is much to explore in this land of opportunities. You can try your luck with entrepreneurship abroad and live the great American dream. But the prospect is both exciting and intimidating, and it is vital to know your facts before you dive. Apart from studying the market competition and niche-specific challenges, you will need to deal with visa concerns.  Further, you will have to evaluate methods to access capital and understand the legal implications of the process.

While it sounds like too much work, setting up a business in the US isn’t an impossible feat. In fact, it may be a tad easier if you have studied and lived here as an international student because you will be comfortable with the culture and landscape. Moreover, there are hundreds of success stories that make the dream more alluring than ever. Let us share a comprehensive guide that can lead you on the road to success.


If you plan to stay back and establish a startup in the US, it makes sense to prepare with the right degree. You can start early, picking an MBA because it can give you a push start with your entrepreneurial career. Consider specializing in the area that aligns with your startup goals. Focus is the key and the sooner you find your calling, the better are your chances to succeed.


The most crucial aspect of starting a business as an international student in the US relates to your visa. After all, you have to make sure that your startup is on the right side of the law. Here are the visa options you can explore.

  • F1 VISA- A large segment of international students enter the country on an F1 visa. However, it isn’t the best choice if you look forward to running a business in the country. The F1 programme does not permit students to own a business. But you can pitch in as a passive investor or partner in a US-based startup. Even as it is permissible, there is always a risk of your F1 visa being revoked if you play an active role in the startup’s operations.
  • OPT PROGRAMME- As an international student, you can apply for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme and operate a venture related to your field of study. However, the time period of this programme is only one year. After completing OPT, you will have to leave the country and apply for another visa to come back.
  • H1-B VISA- The H1-B visa is another option for international students aspiring to set up a business in the US. It lets you work here for three years, but you cannot hold a majority stake in a company. After the three-year period, you can get an extension of an additional six years and apply for a green card thereafter.  The programme is the ideal option for students who want to run a business and settle in the US for good.

Another area that you need to work on is accessing capital for your business, which may be harder for someone from another country. Venture capital firms and angel investors are often apprehensive about investing in a startup founded by an international student. It is mainly because of the visa complexities rather than xenophobic prejudice. However, you can leverage your international background as a favourable factor because it gives you a broader outreach and makes you an attractive prospect for foreign investors. The choice of business entity also plays a crucial role when it comes to securing funds. The C corporation and the LLC are the best options as the S corporation prohibits non-resident aliens from becoming investors.


The complexities of immigration and setup are daunting. It is imperative to look for the right legal guidance and support during your entrepreneurial journey. A seasoned immigration attorney can help you navigate complex and constantly changing immigration laws. Further, you will need a business lawyer to help you with the registration and other setup norms. The key is to understand what needs to be done to stay legal and have a plan to handle visa timelines and rules.


Being an international student gives you an advantage as an entrepreneur as you already have a strong network in your college and community. It provides you the support you need and lowers the risk of failure of your venture. Just use your connections to extend your outreach, get help, and push growth in the early stages of the business. There are good chances you will achieve your American dream even before you expect.

Statistics indicate that international students are more entrepreneurial than their peers, which sets them up for success even amid challenging circumstances. Everything boils down to understanding how things are to be done, and you can achieve success even against the odds.

If you are considering studying abroad why don’t you discuss your prospects and opportunities with experts at Lurnable’s dedicated study abroad counselling division LurnPathways?

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