How to Start a Business in the USA For Non-Citizens - Relaxed Mode

How to Start a Business in the USA For Non-Citizens

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The USA is known as the “Free Nation,” “a land of endless possibilities,” and the “land that flows with milk and honey.” No wonder so many people from all over the world want to migrate here.

As a non-citizen, one of the best ways to make money in the USA is to start a business. Most non-citizens don’t see this possibility and will rather seek employment. This is because they don’t know how to start a business in the USA for non-citizens.

Can a non-US Citizen own a Business in the USA?

This question has a straightforward answer, “Yes!” Anyone can start a business in the USA. However, to do this, there are certain things that you must learn. We will discuss most of the things that you need to know in this guide.

The first question that comes to mind is, “what type of business can a non-citizen start in the US?” Non-citizens can run two kinds of businesses in the United States. They are:

  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company

You can run any business under these two formats as long as it is legal. This means that whether you sell goods or services, they must be under one of the business structures mentioned above. Overall, the process required for a non-citizen to own a business in the US is the same for a US citizen. You don’t necessarily need a green card.

How can a Foreigner Start a Business in the USA?

The idea most non-citizens have is that they need a green card or visa to start a visa in the USA. Well, that notion is quite wrong. What you need is to register the business as an LLC or a corporation and you are good to go. However, experts suggest that it is best to apply for and get a visa. This makes the whole process easier.

With this comes another question, “what are the visa options for non-citizens who want to start a business in the US?” Check out the options below:

E-2 Visa

This is very popular among foreign entrepreneurs. For a non-citizen to qualify for this visa, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of one of the countries that is part of the “Treaty of Navigation, Friendship, or Commerce.”
  • You must have a significant investment in a business or have a plan to do so.
  • While there isn’t a limit to your capital, it is advisable that you have about $100k at least for investment.
  • You should prove that you have at least 50% controlling shares of your business.

L-1 Visa

This visa is awarded to business owners that have an existing business in other countries. They should have a desire to expand their business into the shores of the United States. When applying for this visa, you should attach documents that show the address of your physical office in other countries.

Also, you should provide a plan that supports your executive position in the new branch. This visa lasts for just a year with an option for a year’s extension depending on the health of the new branch.

How to set up a Limited Liability Company in the US for Non-Citizens

After getting your visas, the next thing on your mind is registering your company. Before then, you should also open a US bank account. This makes it easier for your business to transact with other US-based businesses.

Now that you are ready to set up your Limited Liability Company in the US, how do you go about this? We have listed the steps to take below:

  • Select a State
  • Name your LLC
  • Hire a Registered Agent Service
  • File your LLC with the State
  • Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  • Get an EIN
  • Get a Physical US Mailing Address
  • Open a US Bank Account

You will need to find professional help to complete most of the processes stated above. It is not such a complicated process and the incorporation time depends on the State your business is domiciled. Let’s check out some FAQs.

Also Read: How to Start Small Business in Nigeria

FAQs for Non-Citizens Incorporating Businesses in the USA

Can I work in the USA if I have an LLC or Corporation?

Without the proper documentation, you cannot. You can be a shareholder or director of a business without having a visa. However, to perform your duties and work in the US, you need to get a valid work permit. Doing so will result in paying fines and you could even get deported.

How long does it take to incorporate a business in the US?

The duration of the process depends on the State where you established the business. It could take between 2 days to 2 weeks. To make it faster, you can pay for “expedited processing.”

How do I open a checking account?

To open an account with the bank, you need to visit a bank of your choice and provide the following documents:

  • A valid ID (passport or driver’s license)
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Tax ID Number (EIN) for your company

Do I need to have a US address before incorporating my business in the USA?

No, it is not a necessity. Working with a registered agent makes it possible to register your LLC in the USA from another country.

Can I create a branch for my existing company in the US?

Yes, you can. However, in technical terms, it won’t be considered your branch location. To give it this status, you need to first establish a relationship with both entities via ownership or internal resolutions.

What are the Most Successful Small Businesses?

In concluding this post, we will provide you with a list of small businesses that you can consider. Non-citizens can start any of these businesses in the United States easily:

  • Mobile apps for children
  • Home improvement equipment
  • Vacation rentals
  • Language courses
  • Academic courses
  • Post-pregnancy services
  • Personal trainers
  • IT support
  • Car wash services
  • Food business

Non-citizens can start a business in the US. We have shown you all that you need to do, answered some FAQs, and given you a list of ideas to try. If you have questions, you can drop them in the comments section.

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