Can Foreigners Start A Business In the USA?


If you are a foreigner and hope to start your own business in the US, you must be willing to follow the various laws in place. Opening your company may seem like a tedious journey, but the result will be fulfilling as the US market is lucrative and competitive. The beautiful thing about this notion is that you will be able to access venture capital and investments equally as other residents.

Also, this path will help you to attain your green card quickly. As you are seeking to start your business, it is wise to choose the right business model. One of the businesses you can own as a foreigner includes the Limited Liability Company (LLC). However, you can also register your business as an S-Corporation or a C-Corporation.

A foreigner can comfortably start a business in the USA. Moreover, the foreigner does not have to be physically present in the US to operate the business. It is easier to register a business in a state with flexible corporate laws like Delaware or California. In such states, foreigners do not need local banks and physical addresses to register the business.

What Visa Do You Need to Start A Business in the USA?

Foreigners do not need visas to start small businesses in the US. Also, it is not a requirement to have residency or citizenship to pursue such dreams.

The US immigration laws have placed the E-2 and L-1 visas for those immigrants who wish to apply for them. The government demands that you must meet some requirements to qualify for these visas. The E-2 Visas requires that you have the necessary knowledge and plan on how small businesses operate and turn profits. It would help if you also were from a nation that enjoys business relationships with the US.

On the other hand, you can apply for the L-1 Visa if you have an existing business and you would like to expand it into the US markets. The L-1 Visa requirements demand that you must have a business plan and a physical address. You must also show the course of supporting the position of the executive for at least a year.

Can You Start A Business with a Work Permit?

A work permit ideally permits a foreigner to engage in contractual agreements with their employers. However, you cannot use these work permits to start a business venture. Besides, you will still have to apply for an E-2 Visa or L-1 Visa. Remember to read the terms of your work permit and the contract you have with your employer.

Can International Students Open a Business in the US?

Most of the international students in the US come in through the F-1 visa that allows them the privilege of engaging in learning. F-1 visa requirements advise against students engaging in business. However, if you are a student and a green card holder, you can open a business, run it, and receive compensation.

The immigration laws leave a wiggle room for the students on an F-1 visa with an entrepreneurial spirit. You can preliminarily plan your business, but you cannot actively engage in running or earning a salary. However, there is such a loophole that allows you to make dividends if you invest in your company.

Can a Foreigner Own an LLC in the US?

The federal and state laws do not bar you from owning a Limited Liability Company (LLC) as a foreigner. This concept extends to anyone or entity that is still living outside the united states of America. Plus, you can also operate the daily activities of the company from outside the states.

You must have the qualifications or have the license to run some business-like law firms and pharmacies.

Requirements to Start A Business as a Foreigner

Registering your business in the US is quite complicated and may come with some headaches. However, once you have already set it up, the daily running of the company is relatively easy. There are numerous legal requirements that you should meet before you can register your business in the US as a foreigner.

Starting a business will require that you develop a business plan and set your goals. Also, this will let you determine the type of goods and services that you will provide. Plus, you will have to plan and visualize the amount of money you may need for the startup.

The business will also require that you develop a functional structure to help with its daily operations. Some of the things you need to research and implement include your expenditure, income, and taxes. The company can take the form of an LLC, S-Corporation, or a C-Corporation.

You will need a Tax Identification Number (TIN) to help you file for taxes with the IRS. Remember to always use your TIN as Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file for taxes instead of your Social Security Number (SSN).

Selecting and registering your business name will help you with the branding purpose of your products and services. This is also how the state will recognize your business and its legality of operating within its jurisdiction. When you do not register or choose a name for your business, the company will formally take your name.

Your business will also need permits from both the local government and the state before you can start operating. Remember that you may still have to get the federal permits depending on the type of business you are running or its location.

Getting the right insurance for your business to help protect your interests is mandatory. Moreover, by starting such a business, you automatically become responsible for your company’s financial and legal status.

Final Thoughts

The United States market is welcoming to many foreigners as it is the land of plenty and opportunity. If you believe that you want a piece of the pie, you should venture into the market. It may seem really impossible to many people, but if you are determined, you will succeed.

Gui Hadlich

Hey there, I'm Gui! I was born in Brazil, and I got to travel the world playing tennis. In 2014 I moved to the US to study, and ended up staying here. I've been a student, got married, got a green card, bought a home, and started a business - all without being a citizen. I know how difficult it can be to find answers when you are living in a foreign place, and this is why I started Foreigner Living - to help you with any questions you may have!

Recent Posts