Can I start my own business on H4, L2 EAD?
Updated: Jun 15, 2022
H4 dependents need to wait for their spouse’s i-140 to be approved to be eligible to apply for a Work Permit. Some are lucky to be eligible as soon as they move here, while most have to wait for years to be eligible.
People waiting to be eligible are usually advised to either volunteer to gain some experience or those who are financially well of, go for a master’s course (brave are the ones who take this route). While for most, it is just an endless wait until they receive the good news.
Until last year L2 visa holders were also under similar category when their work permit renewals were sometimes taking a year and they had to lose their jobs. (Fun Fact: I was one of those L2 visa holders).
The Job Hunt
Not to sound discouraging, but the job hunt process anywhere in the world is difficult, so for someone with a dependent visa status and probably a few years of gap in the resume, it can be an uphill battle. The US job market, though vast and at most times high paying, is equally ruthless.
The whole process is demoralizing. By the time you’re though with this process, your confidence is at an all-time low and you start doubting your caliber and now you’re ready to do just any job that will hire you. You tell yourself, that you just need a foot in the door. You are ready to work your way up the corporate ladder (once again).
You are advised to attend Networking events, upskill yourself, learn a new tool like Tableau etc. You’re told it’s all about the hustle. You need to put yourself out there. Meet more people, talk to as many people as possible. All this while you’re married and have a personal life too. Yet, you do all of that and then some more.
But what if I were to tell you that you could do all of these things, not to land a job but for your business.
Can I start a business on H4 or L2 EAD?
Yes. Interestingly, the EAD for H4 or L2 holders is not restricted to any particular type of employment. It can be full-time, part-time, multiple employers, short-term multiple employers, independent contractor, self-employed business owner, employment through a staffing agency, paid, unpaid internship, or not working at all.
Not many people know about this or maybe they do and do not consider this as an option.
Here's someone who understood this very well and today has multiple startups, went from being on H4 to Sponsoring a Green Card for herself and her spouse (and business partner).
Do check out her story here
So, here’s a Guide that gives you:
6 Reasons to Start your own business or a side hustle with your H4 or L2 EAD.
Your visa allows you to do so
You might have heard some of your friends say, if only my visa allowed me to start my own business, I would be much better off. Now imagine, if you are a dependent visa holder with your EAD, you can actually start your own business.
Like I just mentioned above, if you have a work permit or the EAD, you are not restricted to any one kind of employment. You can have multiple jobs, or you can also have multiple businesses or side hustles. You can even work as a freelancer as well as own a business and do a job at the same time. The world is your oyster.
This might come as a surprise, but it is true.
Remember this meme from Schitt’s Creek?
Well, you can actually write off a lot of your expenses as cost of doing a business and you’ll be able to save a lot of money in taxes. Your CPA can explain this in more detail to you.
Basically, if you are working as freelancer or have a small business that you’ve bootstrapped and are running from your home there are multiple expenses that you can write-off.
These include and are not restricted to:
Part of the rent, Electricity, Internet and more.
Find Personal Fulfillment
Many people launch companies to enjoy their interests as a moneymaking activity. Instead of spending their days selling widgets in which they have no interest, they go forth and launch companies using their creative passions; to create handmade jewelry, bake delicious creations, start a YouTube channel, become an influencer or build striking homes. Your work becomes more fulfilling, and your life more enjoyable and interesting.
Working for yourself
Ok, this might sound as cliched and probably has nothing to do with your visa status. But it is a real advantage. Think about this. When you’re looking for a job here on your EAD, you are advised to attend Networking events, upskill yourself, learn a new tool like Tableau etc. You’re told it’s all about the hustle. You need to put yourself out there. Meet more people, talk to as many people as possible.
Now, imagine doing all of this doing for your own business. Imagine building great connections while building your own business. Isn’t it worthwhile doing all of that to grow your business?
Step towards financial independence:
Entrepreneurship is the only way to build real wealth for a lifetime and be financially independent. The majority of the world’s top billionaires are all self-made entrepreneurs, according to CNBC. Even the best corporate jobs have a limit on your annual income, salary, and bonuses. Owning your own business removes your salary cap.
Plus, many small businesses become valuable assets themselves that can be sold as investments
You are your own boss
The top reason most people want to start their own business is the freedom and flexibility entrepreneurship offers them, according to recent surveys. Perks include schedule flexibility to work around kid’s schedules, university classes, or personal preferences.
Time is only one of the flexibilities that you have as an entrepreneur. You dictate your best working environment, location, and whether you prefer to work outdoors, indoors, at night, in the morning, on a computer, or with wood. It is all up to you.