How Immigrants Can Start Businesses? A Guide

Finding an income source is of great concern to most immigrants. Getting job opportunities for non-citizens can be challenging. Even those that are available may not be enough to sustain the needs of the family.

Entrepreneurship provides a fantastic opportunity to earn a living. Yet, immigrants have to contend with some challenges that they must overcome. Strict immigration policies, language barriers, navigating, and penetrating the market are some of them.

How Immigrants Can Start Businesses

Yet, success stories abound, especially in places like the United States. Yahoo, for example, is the brainchild of founder Jerry Wang. His place of birth is Taiwan, but he moved to the US in 1978.

Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk was born in South Africa. He ended up in America as a transfer student from Canada.

The co-founders of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer were born in Germany. And the list goes on.

It is clear that starting a business for an immigrant is not an impossible task. But, it helps to have the right steps on how to go about it.

  1. Explore Citizenship by Investment Opportunities

We will start the guide with an effective entry into entrepreneurship. And, it comes in the form of citizenship by investment programs.

So what is citizenship by investment? Well, governments worldwide are always looking for ways to fund projects in the country. It has led to some countries opening up investment opportunities to foreigners. This is typically in real estate, funds, or other developmental programs.

There is a minimum amount of money you must invest into European citizenship by investment programs. Malta has a minimum amount of €610,000. Portugal requires €350,000, Bulgaria €512,000, and so on.

So, what are the benefits of investing in EU citizenship by investment programs:

  • The second citizenship program allows you to hold a second passport.
  • You have all the rights of a citizen. That means access to quality healthcare, education, job opportunities, and visa-free movement within other European countries.
  • There is no requirement to give up the citizenship of your country. Of course, this applies only if your mother country allows for dual citizenship.
  • It gives you a direct entry into entrepreneurship, depending on where you invest.
  • Any barriers that most immigrants may face when setting up a business will no longer be a concern to you.

Do consider this one of the best ways to start your entrepreneurship journey as an immigrant.

  1. Get the Basics Right

Getting into entrepreneurship as an immigrant follows the same principles as any other business setup.

  • Have a solid, well-researched, and documented business plan in place.
  • Determine where you will register the company. In the United States, many entrepreneur immigrants gravitate towards places like New York, Montana, Delaware, and Nevada. The states have less rigid policies around foreign businesses. Do pay attention to the tax implications and other operational costs when deciding on a location.
  • Decide what products or services to offer. Research the market well to know whether there is a need for what you will be bringing to the table. If you go into an area that already has many players, the competition will be very stiff. It gets even harder if the locals are the business owners.
  • Have solid financial planning and funding sources. Research funding opportunities available to immigrants. The support could even come from established immigrant companies.
  • Decide on the company structure, whether sole proprietorship, C-corporation, limited liability, or partnership. Please seek expert advice for this part. There are legal and tax benefits that you can get depending on the option. Limited liability companies, for example, guard you against liabilities or debts arising from the business. The company has a legal and separate identity from your personal one.
  1. Apply For a Visa

The main advantage of EU citizenship by investment programs is you don’t have to go through the hassle of visa applications. The concerned parties will facilitate the process once you meet the qualification criteria, and the country accepts you.

If you’re going the entrepreneurship way, you must apply for a visa. Check the government websites for information on how to go about it. The embassies should also be of great help.

If you plan to move to the US, you can apply for the following visas.

  • H-1B is available to temporary workers, especially in high skill areas
  • L-1A and L-1B are for employees relocating to US branches of the company.
  • E-1, E-2, and E-5 are open to treaty countries targeting investors and traders.
  • Extraordinary ability visas like EB-1 are available to entrepreneurs. The only condition is that you must be a successful business person in your country. Or, you should have a fantastic business idea to sell to the US government.

There are two categories entrepreneurs need to be aware of. Non-immigrant visas have a notable caveat, though. If your business fails or you no longer want to be in it, you must return to your home country. The best bet is to apply for a permanent residency visa to qualify for a green card.

  1. Register the Business

Once you decide on the company structure and name, the next step is to register the business. First, apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) and employer identification number (EIN). The latter allows you to file returns, apply for a license, and open business accounts.

Also, file articles of incorporation to register the best business as a legal entity in the state.

Final Thoughts

Do not let your immigrant status deter your dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Some of the biggest business success stories had humble beginnings. We have highlighted some of the steps you can take in setting up a business.

But the most important piece of advice we can give is to seek expert help. If you, for example, want to apply for the EU by citizenship investment, there are professionals who handle such jobs. They have the knowledge and expertise to ensure you get the best advice possible.

And, the experts will do the bulk of the work for you. It can be a great relief not to oversee every step of the process.

The same applies to all the other states. Do seek legal or financial advice before making any important decisions. Consider it an investment towards your future journey as an entrepreneur.

Francis Nwokike

Francis Nwokike is a Social Entrepreneur and an experienced Disaster Manager. I love discussing new business trends and marketing tips. I share ideas and tips that will help you grow your business.

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