Developing free (as in free beer) App while on H1B


wantrepreneur

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Hi,

 

I have an itch to develop a free app (free as in beer). It will be free forever. There won't be any ads or any in-app purchases. In other words, I won't have any income from this app whatsoever ever.

 

Now you might be interested in knowing what's the motive? Well, the motive is I want establish credibility and demonstrate my skills set with a real world application (even if it is free). It can prove to be of great help during interview process and help me stand out. 

 

Can I do this while on H1B? I don't see how it harms anyone, only benefits.

 

Thanks!

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It fine to do open source development while on H1. With a "free as in beer" app, i.e., closed source, there is always the suspicion that it can be turned into a paid app later. There is nothing that would prevent that. If the source code is public, e.g., under the GPL, it would show that you really have no intent to make money from it.

And having worked on Open Source for sure looks good on the resume.

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JoeF... . is it your interpretation of the law or is it mentioned anywhere specifically?  If so, can you point me to the clause where it is mentioned? As I siad, I won't be making this app paid ever.

 

Laws won't specifically mention Open Source. That's not how laws work. Laws specify general rules, not specifics.

People without work permit, e.g., students, have participated in Open Source development since at least the 90ies.

If there had been a problem, we would have heard of it by now.

 

The rule in the law is that a person without work permit can not do things that people usually get paid for. People who participate in Open Source development generally do it for free.

And as I mentioned, saying that you won't be making the app paid doesn't really mean all that much. People change their mind all the time. Having it Open Source makes that promise explicit and irreversible (even though you could change the license later to make it proprietary, the code originally licensed under an Open Source license stays that way.)

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How does making an App open source licensed under GPL makes any difference? If I want, I can release it as open source under GPL now and make it a dual license (Commercial + GPL) later. There is nothing that prevents that either. 

 

It fine to do open source development while on H1. With a "free as in beer" app, i.e., closed source, there is always the suspicion that it can be turned into a paid app later. There is nothing that would prevent that. If the source code is public, e.g., under the GPL, it would show that you really have no intent to make money from it.

And having worked on Open Source for sure looks good on the resume.

 

How does making an App open source licensed under GPL makes any difference? If I want, I can release it as open source under GPL now and make it a dual license (Commercial + GPL) later. There is nothing that prevents that either. 

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Okay.. my last comment looks misplaced as JoeF's comment was not approved by the moderator at the time I posted it. So I am sorry about that. 

 

How does a news headline like this sounds "A PhD in computer science is deported for developing a free app which helps mentally challenged kids learn faster ". Ridiculous right?

 

Just because it is a law doesn't mean it is 'right'. US immigration policies, especially those related to H1B are insane, sometimes bordering on violations of basic human rights (I can't write a free App which can prove to be very helpful to large chunk of society?  Give me a break! I understand the idea that US workforce should be protected and should have a first shot at job. I don't have any problem with that. What I am doing does not affect US workforce adversely. On the contrary, it has a potential for creating jobs for Americans in the future ). Freedom that US advertises and its entrepreneurial spirit is what attracted to me this country in the first place. If I don't get that freedom and if immigrants are discouraged from being entrepreneurial then US is not an attractive place for me and  I don't mind if I get deported for practicing what I believe are fundamental human rights.)

 

So, I will consult with an immigration lawyer but most likely I am going to go ahead with the free App anyway. For those who are interested, I will post what the immigration lawyer has to say about it.

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How does making an App open source licensed under GPL makes any difference? If I want, I can release it as open source under GPL now and make it a dual license (Commercial + GPL) later. There is nothing that prevents that either. 

 

Sure. But everybody else in the world can modify it and continue to release it as GPL.

So, your commercial aspirations would be foiled. How are you going to make money when anybody can release the same program for free?

You may want to read up on the GPL...

Oracle, for example, has found that out the hard way with MySQL (which is dual-licensed.) MariaDB is a clone, available for free, and it eats MySQL for lunch (and it is better to start with...)

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