Starting a business requires a lot of dedication, effort, and understanding of the laws. Entrepreneurs can create a small business in the United States without being citizens. The road to starting an entrepreneurial journey in this country is long. Understanding the rules and regulations can make the process less difficult.
There are various regulations and legal processes that non-citizens must follow to acquire a visa. Starting a business in the U.S. is similar for citizens and non-citizens, but there are important things for non-citizens to understand to avoid issues that affect their business investments.
If you wish to operate a business in this country legally, you will be required to have a visa to live here lawfully. Contact a respected business immigration law firm to learn more about the process of getting a visa. Expert legal professionals will assist you and help you throughout the process.
Here are the steps that you should follow to start a business in the U.S. as a foreigner:
- Get necessary federal approvals
To operate a business legally in this country, you will be required to have permission by the federal government. To operate a business, individuals must have approval from the U.S. government through either an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa or EB-5 Visa. Foreign citizens often have a tough time understanding the complexities of the legal process and receive approval. There are different business visas available to conduct business operations in the U.S.
A B1 is a temporary business visa that is typically valid for a limited duration, like six months. You can use this visa to conduct short-term business transactions legally but not to establish your own business in the U.S. An E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation (or with which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may be eligible for this classification, as well. Lastly, the EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to make a qualifying investment into a new or existing U.S. commercial enterprise that creates U.S. jobs to obtain a Green Card. One EB-5 investment can enable the main applicant, spouse, and any unwed children under the age of 21 to obtain Green Cards.
- Choose a structure for your company
Starting a business is not limited to having an idea and a plan. There are several laws and requirements that you will have to fulfill to get approval and operate your business legally. After you have legal permission for the visa, the next step is to choose the structure for your company. There are differences between choosing a Corporation and LLC. The type of business structure you choose will depend on your requirements, purpose behind starting the business, and exposure to risk. You may want to contact an experienced immigration attorney because there are some restrictions on the business structures that foreign entrepreneurs may form for their U.S. companies.
- Appoint a registered agent
Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) and C Corporations must designate a registered agent in each state where it has filed formation documents to accept service of process on behalf of the company. Different states have different requirements for registered agents. Generally, they must be 18 years old, have a physical state address in the state of corporate formation, and should be available during business hours.
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
The law requires businesses to have a Tax Identification Number (TIN). For corporations and LLCs an Employer Identification Number (EIN) serves the same purpose. An EIN is a nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is used to identify the tax accounts of employers and certain others who have no employees. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns. Foreign entrepreneurs can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) because they will not have Social Security numbers.
- Business bank account.
All businesses must have a business bank account in the U.S. You must have all required documentation and evidence to prove your application. It has become difficult in some cases for foreigners to open accounts in the U.S. due to recent legislation, but it can still be accomplished with official documentation, proof of identification, and competent representation. The required documents include a passport, ITIN, EIN, and official corporate documents.
- Obtain required licenses and permits
You should follow all the legal requirements, including obtaining necessary licenses and permissions. Operating without a license can have a significant impact on your business. You may even have to shut down operations if you do not have the required documents and licenses.
Therefore, ensure that you have properly applied for all necessary permits. All businesses require a form of license or permit to operate. Without proper permits, you may have to shut down or pay expensive fines.
How much will I have to pay to start a business in the U.S.?
To begin operations, you may have to pay significant amounts of money depending on the state you want to set up in. For instance, you may have to pay anywhere between $50 to $800 to establish an LLC, depending on the state. That is in addition to actual start-up costs of your business.
You must also refer to state laws and regulations to ensure you remain in compliance. For confusion related to immigration visas, you can speak to a reputable Seattle Immigration lawyer. They can help you understand the process and get your business set up without further delay.