dear sophie immigration maze 3

Can I start a company or side hustle on a TN visa? • Tech Crunch

dear sophie immigration maze 3

Here is another edition “Dear Sophie” is an advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people around the world to rise above borders and realize their dreams,” said Silicon Valley immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn. “Whether you’re in People Ops, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Technology Flow+ members get access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; Use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription at 50% off.


Dear Sophie:

I am a Canadian citizen working in the US under a TN visa as a software engineer, I want to start my own company or at least earn money through a side hustle. Is this possible in my TN or is this the only way I can do it through green card? If so, is it possible to get permanent residence as TN is non-immigrant intent?

– Smart Canadian

Dear Wise,

There are many things that the modern US immigration system is not designed for, including (but not limited to): the Internet, e-filing and blockchain, remote working, working from home, the modern gig economy, startups, flexible work arrangements, contractor work, and the gig economy.

You may be aware that our current system of laws is generally created by the Immigration and Nationality Act In 1952The legal history at play here is when everything was so simple that judges made decisions about tailors traveling from China to San Francisco to take measurements for tailored suits when they returned home months later.

Let me get straight to the point: You cannot do any work under your TN except for the employer who sponsored you for the TN. So, my educational message is this: No side hustles or founding startups while in your TN.

Composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with the Technology Flow logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

Two TN visas at the same time?

Yes, it is possible. According to immigration law, you can hold two TN visas at the same time – one from your current employer and another from, say, your startup. However, this is very difficult to achieve, and comes with two very important caveats:

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