Im afraid I have bad news for you. I have consulted several sources,
that you could legally do some work on the side, in addition to
H-1B job. Unfortunately, you cannot and your wife cannot.
I called the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Customer
Line at 1-800-375-5283, and spoke with Information Officer Wilkerson.
She told me that the H1-B visa is employer specific and the one
on your visa is the only employer you can work for. I asked if you
could have a home-based business and work for yourself, and she said,
No, he cant work for himself.
I also e-mailed Rajiv. S. Khanna, an immigration lawyer, at
I told him about your question, informed him of the visas you and your
have, and this was his e-mail reply, They cannot do anything on the
I had feared this would be the answer, since I also looked up the
of your visas.
H-1B status is only valid for employment with the employer who
INS and only for the particular job for which the Labor Condition
This is according to the MyNewJobFinder site, at:
Your wife is, of course, more severely limited than you are with the
Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of H-1B visa holders
H-4 status, allowing them to enter but not work in the U.S. This
TriNet .com at:
So, the answer is, you and your wife are not allowed to work outside
specified employer of the H-1B visa. However, if you would like to get
really ambitious and form a company to employ American workers, that
is a whole other story. You might be interested in an article on U.S.
Visa News at:
The questioner asks if, as a H-1B visa holder, he can start his own
The answer states basically yes, but he cant actually do the work,
employ others. I know this isnt what you were asking, but you might
be interested in checking it out.
It might be tempting to go ahead and try to do web-based work anyway,
I found this related comment on a bulletin board at Indolink.com:
Posted by Rahul on March 20, 2000 at 01:05:21:
In Reply to: STARTING A HOME BASED BUSINESS WITH H1B-VISA posted by
KAYA on March 18, 2000 at 16:09:06:
It is certainly illegal.
Although many new H1 desis are being lured to do some side business
such as AMWAY, etc.
It is not worth the risk, especially if one wants to stay in this
country for long and obtain a green-card. INS is pretty smart in
uncovering such things at the time of green-card, and they are always
looking for any excuse to NOT give a green-card.
Sorry for the bad news. As someone who enjoys my work over the
I wish you had the same privilege. Perhaps things will change in the
Before you rate this answer, please ask me to clarify or add anything
left out. I appreciate your business. cath-ga
Clarification of Answer by
22 Nov 2002 10:24 PST
Here is another late response from an immigration lawyer Farhad
to explain the difference between "work" and "investing in a company."
"Having a business and working at it versus investing in a business
are two vastly different things. Recieving the profit from an
investment is appropriate. Receiving a salary or other compensation
from a business is not appropriate. The IRS takes the view that
regularly working for an entity (for a specific period every day,
etc.) constitutes employment. The INS would typically follow suit,
employing the IRS definition. If your clients set up a corporation,
perhaps paid a fee to someone to actually "run" the business, invested
in the business, and received the profit, then I can see that this
legal structure insulates your clients from direct "employment" and
thus could be permissible."