You Can Start a Small Business as an Immigrant

Any individual may form a company. Generally, the minimum age is 18.

In most states, you are not required to be a resident of the state to form a company, and some states even allow one company to form another company.

Immigration Concerns

People who are not citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States are free to organize and run any type of business organization in their own name.

The LLC would be the most advantageous, because it allows foreign nationals as owners (unlike an S corporation) and it avoids corporate taxation (unlike a C corporation). Two legal issues should concern foreigners when starting a business--their immigration status and the proper reporting of the business's foreign owners.

The ownership of a U.S. business does not automatically give you the right to enter or remain in the United States. Different types of visas are available to investors and business owners, and each of these has strict requirements.

A visa to enter the United States may be permanent or temporary. Permanent visas for small business owners usually require investments from $500,000 to $1,000,000 that result in the creation of new jobs.

However, if structured right, there are ways to obtain visas for smaller amounts of money.

Temporary visas may be used by small business owners to enter the U.S. These are hard to get because in most cases, the foreigner must prove that there are no U.S. residents qualified to take the job.

United States businesses that own real property and are controlled by foreigners are required to file certain federal reports under the International Investment Survey Act, the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, and the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA).

If these laws apply to your small business, consult an attorney who specializes in foreign ownership of U.S. businesses.