Dear Mentor:

Despite my H4 status, can I start a business?

I am happy to read from you website. I am an H4 visa holder. I want to know if I can start a business in the united state; e.g., house painting, buying and selling computers, opening a shop to sell clothes, buying and renovating houses for resale, etc. A business like house painting will be done by placing advert in the newspaper to get client. Please confirm if I would need to change my status for this purpose. I want to start generating income without taking any employment.

International Entrepreneur, New York, USA

Dear International Entrepreneur:

We are glad indeed that you like iMahal. Thank you.

You inquiry is a play on words in the English language. We recognize that you are being sincere, but you are parsing words. The H4 visa strictly prohibits the holder from gaining any form of employment; that is, the H4 visa holder is not allowed to earn any income. As an entrepreneur, you would automatically be an employee of the enterprise. We can not conceive of a situation where the entrepreneur is not also an employee of the enterprise. You wish to call earning from entrepreneurship as business earnings, as opposed to employee earnings from employment. There is no difference! Generating income via business ownership is no different from obtaining compensation from employment. You must obtain permission from the US INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) and a change in your visa status before you can legally launch any of the proposed ventures. The INS is not likely to grant such permission.

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