Some of America’s top companies are founded by immigrants. Elon Musk, a South African, founded Tesla and Space X. Ariana Huffington, a Greek, founded Huffington Post. Sergey Brin, a Russian, co-founded Google. Living in a foreign country is a catalyst for creativity. Many international students come to the US and are struck by new ideas and the possibility that they can happen here.

If you’re going to start a business as an international student an idea the first step. After the idea you need solid immigration advice and connections. Here’s a short check list for international students who want to launch their startup:

  • Ask your international student services office if they have a referral for an immigration attorney.
  • Set up a consult with an immigration attorney. Many consults are free.
  • Get your information from trusted sources. Start by reading up on the basics. Here is an FAQ on starting a business on an F-1 visa by an immigration attorney.
  • Learn about visa options for entrepreneurs
  • Explore resources on campus. Check your business school for entrepreneurial centers, competitions, and classes. Or take free startup classes online. Get connected with the resources you need for your company.
  • Connect with your local community. You don’t have to be in NYC or Silicon Valley to get connected to startups. Look for Startup Weekend events, community meetups for entrepreneurs, or hackathons.
  • Pay attention to VCs that are looking specifically at international student startups. A few of them are: Unshackled Ventures, Oneway VC, and OneVC.

International student startups are possible with the right information and visas. It’s not easy. But figuring out your visa options is one of the many challenges you’ll overcome as you build your company.  Good luck!

international student founders


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