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BizIPEsq.
BizIPEsq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 996
Experience:  I am a business attorney. I represent individuals and companies with all business related matters.
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I am planning to go on Kickstarter and get crowd funding to

Resolved Question:

I am planning to go on Kickstarter and get crowd funding to do a short film project. I am not getting paid for the project and the short film sheds light on a important cause. I am here in the US on a work visa and wondering how to proceed with getting the crowd funding using Kickstarter. Would I be able to have a LLC or join one? From my understanding, I can only work for the sponsoring company. Would I be able to proceed as an individual (self proprietor). I have already spent too much time on this project and would like to make it a success. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX support.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  BizIPEsq. replied 1 year ago.

BizIPEsq. :

Hello, I will be assisting you

BizIPEsq. :

Any person may own equity in a US company regardless of visa/immigration status

BizIPEsq. :

however as you correctly noted a person cannot work for a company (including the company that they own equity in) without the proper authorization

Customer:

It is a short film project with a good message (PSA) associated with it. I wrote the script.

BizIPEsq. :

generally speaking, as long as one does not draw salary then one can reasonable claim that no work is being performed.

Customer:

Just looking for funding.

Customer:

also, it is a risky business and I am not rich enough to take risk. The reason for LLC is to limit individual liability

BizIPEsq. :

therefore an entity can be formed and the entity would be the one to solicit fund on kickstarter

BizIPEsq. :

you may be an equity holder but you will not be working for the entity

Customer:

What happens if I direct the film and perform editing and all other stuff

Customer:

basically, I am writing, producing, directing and editing and will have people to do camera and acting

Customer:

and would be renting equipment to do the work.

BizIPEsq. :

that may be considered working. Of course there is no prohibition on you volunteering your services but when you own the company and at the same time "donate" your services it may look suspect

Customer:

ok. There is no intention to make any profit or take any revenue.

BizIPEsq. :

I understand. Technically then you can start a kickstarter campaign and accept the money as gifts. Then in your free time you can produce the film

Customer:

you mean like a self proprietor?

BizIPEsq. :

you would have a reasonable claim to say that this is not work and permitted within the scope of your visa

Customer:

I work in computers.

Customer:

I have made movies for youtube so far.

Customer:

I mean not for youtube company but for my channel as a hobby.

BizIPEsq. :

what I am saying is that you ate not permitted to work anywhere else therefore if you consider this as a hobby then you will be on a safer footing

Customer:

that's why it is getting tricky

Customer:

Will it be considered hobby when you collect money on Kickstarter?

BizIPEsq. :

it could be

BizIPEsq. :

there is no mandate that would say that you would be considered a business

BizIPEsq. :

if you go on kickstarter

Customer:

what is my best option? form a LLC and volunteer service or go as an individual and pay taxes, fees and show it as a hobby. Of course, after the movie is made. I will be sending it

Customer:

to film festivals.

Customer:

LLC would also file taxes but later on. I have no intentions to do anything that is illegal.

BizIPEsq. :

since you are not planning to make a profit if you go the LLC route you might run afoul

BizIPEsq. :

of your visa terms because you will be doing all of the work

Customer:

so I can do this as an individual?

BizIPEsq. :

if you do it as person engaged in a hobby then you stand a better chance to be outside the parameters of work

Customer:

ok.

BizIPEsq. :

terrific

Customer:

how can I limit my liability with the vendors that I would be dealing with like rental equipment and locations etc.,

BizIPEsq. :

unfortunately that's the problem you're going to have

BizIPEsq. :

you need to choose either limit your liability or risk visa issues

Customer:

I cannot risk anything with the visa.

Customer:

I have no intentions of breaking anything..hahaha just looking at my options

BizIPEsq. :

then the choice is kinda made

Customer:

but can the product (finished film) sent to festivals?

Customer:

what if a studio buys it? Then I will be paying taxes (which I will) but will that affect my situation?

Customer:

Studio buying rights the odds are 1 in a million or so..

Customer:

but I want to be certain..

BizIPEsq. :

if the film becomes successful then I would start planning for that

BizIPEsq. :

you goal for now is to produce the film and do it in a good manner

Customer:

Yes.

BizIPEsq. :

if you insist on certainty then I would recommend that you have an immigration attorney review the terms of your current work visa and see what they recommend

BizIPEsq. :

otherwise get the film done (with the added liability of vendors etc.) and then plan your additional steps based on success

Customer:

wont the product be considered as just like a script, or novel or something

BizIPEsq. :

not sure I understood the last question

Customer:

I mean..I can work in computers but on my spare time I can write scripts or novel and if it sells..then it does and we will pay taxes correct?

BizIPEsq. :

you cannot do any work other then what your visa permits you

BizIPEsq. :

that's the issue...

BizIPEsq. :

spare time or not if you're working then you're working regardless if you're paying taxes

Customer:

but is this considered work?

Customer:

ok

BizIPEsq. :

as noted if you do it as you then you can claim that this is your hobby

BizIPEsq. :

that would be a reasonable claim to make

Customer:

it is my hobby.

Customer:

all I am asking is what if my hobby brings me revenue which wasn't an intent

BizIPEsq. :

otherwise if done through or for a LLC it might be construed as work even if it just your hobby

BizIPEsq. :

then it's not a hobby...

BizIPEsq. :

it's work

Customer:

what would you recommend me to do?

BizIPEsq. :

I would highly recommend that seek the advice of an immigration attorney who can review your docs. Other than that you can continue to pursue your non-commercial hobby

BizIPEsq. :

if commercial success happens then you may have other options to adjust statuts

Customer:

ok.

BizIPEsq. :

thank you for allowing me to assist you

Customer:

I appreciate your answer. Thank you so much!

Customer:

I will give you the credit. I appreciate your support.

BizIPEsq. :

please rate my service. Without your rating I do not get compensated for my work

BizIPEsq. :

thank you

BizIPEsq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 996
Experience: I am a business attorney. I represent individuals and companies with all business related matters.
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