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I am 17 years old and working at a startup where I am co-founder and CTO. Soon I will reach my 18th birthday and then I want to register my work experience formally. Our company is based in the USA, but I am not a US resident.

Despite this, can I be registered as CTO of that company when I have reached my 18th birthday?

Please note that I currently work remotely, but I will go to the USA soon. I am wondering whether I can be registered ahead of my visit to the USA.

NOTE: The startup is Non-commercial, there is no such thing like employees right now.

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    Have you actually registered the company in the USA yet? Unsure on the USA, but other places you would need to put the other information in then. But you don't need to 'register' as CTO, that's internal to the company. The company can hire whoever they want and give them any title they want. – Kilisi Sep 18 '17 at 14:25
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    If I recall correctly, the only time when officers of the company need to be listed is when they are publicly-traded corporations. Titles themselves are meaningless - there's a saying that in banking, you're either a teller or a vice president. – Mike Harris Sep 18 '17 at 14:34
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    Are there CTO's in companies in US, legally? Asking since here in Finland the law basically knows the board, CEO and employees. The employees may of course have different titles and roles, but this makes no difference what comes to law. – Tero Lahtinen Sep 18 '17 at 15:56
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    @ArenHovsepyan This might be a cultural difference: the USA does not have a government agency that tracks work experience, and many citizens/residents would be highly resistant to such a concept. – GalacticCowboy Sep 18 '17 at 16:49
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    @MSalters you are confusing a corporate officer (CxO) with a board member. Although officers are often board members, they are frequently distinct - it's possible to be an officer and not sit on the board, and vice versa. – Mike Harris Sep 18 '17 at 17:34
32

Can foreign citizen be remote CTO in US company

Yes.

There are no residency requirements for executives of US companies.

  • Great! thanks fro answer. Also want to ask you, some guy in Armenia (my country) said me that in USA I need to be 21 years old, to be able to work for official full time job is it true or not? since next year I will be 18 and regardless that fact we need to register our startup, since angels will look how much this project is important for us, so we need that I could be listed in official papers, wouldn't that be problem if I am 18 years old guy? – Aren Hovsepyan Sep 18 '17 at 14:43
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    Heck I worked full time in the summers when I was 15. The age you can start varies by state. – corsiKa Sep 18 '17 at 18:42
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    Yes, 18 is a legal adult in the US. There are some certain things you can't do until you're 21, such as drink alcohol, carry firearms (in most states that I'm aware of), etc. One thing that will take some getting used to about the US is that in addition to federal laws and regulations regarding employment, there are also state laws that govern things as well, especially with regard to how corporations function. – Chris E Sep 18 '17 at 19:12
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Yes you can be named "CTO" of a US company without physically being in the US. You wrote that you will soon go to the USA, make sure that you have the proper visa and sponsorship to work in the US - regardless of your position or title.

18

As it applies to being CTO, there are no specific requirements. However you may have a bigger problem, your visa status.

You are going to need a Visa to come to the US. In one of the comments you mention applying to go to Stanford, which would require a student visa. If you come here to work, it would be a different visa, possibly H-1B. Currently, the burden for approval of a working visa is probably higher than a student visa, but if you took the easier path of a student visa and then worked for your start-up, you could have legal issues.

You need to make sure you have your visa issues sorted out and are allowed to work in the US, then you can worry about being CTO. You may need to talk to an immigration lawyer in the US.

7

Although people have already replied to you stating (accurately) that you can be on the board of a company no problem, keep in mind that "being on the board" and "getting paid" are going to be vastly different things; the moment money is brought into the question there are a lot more problems.

For example, you say you're coming to the US soon, what does that mean? I assume, since you mentioned Stanford, you'll be coming in as an F1 (student) visa. The work restrictions placed on an F1 visa are very strict, in order to be gainfully employed you'll have to go either through CPT work allowance (which you can do while you're a student), or OPT work allowance (which can happen before and after you graduate). Your company must be registered in the E-Verify program and be able to prove to the US government that your employment is directly related to your field of study. You'll have to get paperwork emitted and signed by your school's DSO, your company, and potentially a faculty member or advisor.

Furthermore, all employment authorizations tied to an F1 visa are time-limited, you'll have to convert to a different visa which allows you to live and work in the US after you graduate. If you're an executive of the company, they may be able to bring you over under an L visa which you can convert to a green card down the line. You can also go the H1B route, which is longer, more difficult, and has a much higher likelihood of failure (as it's a lottery).

All that being said, my main point is: you can be named any position you want in the company, but if you want physically live in the US and get paid to be in this position, you'll have to go through an extensive immigration process. I highly recommend hiring an immigration attorney.

  • I think I will get business visa first rather than student, I just mentioned Stanford because I was just thinking about my future application to them. – Aren Hovsepyan Sep 18 '17 at 18:58
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    @ArenHovsepyan A business visa allows you to do various things in the US like attend meetings or conferences during a temporary visit, but it doesn't allow you to work in the US. If you're planning to come to the US to work and/or for a long stay, you'd need another type of visa, and your company should contact an immigration lawyer for advice. – Zach Lipton Sep 19 '17 at 7:35

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