Starting a Business: a Guide for U.S. Immigrants

Plenty of people come to the U.S. to fulfill their dreams of a better life. While many immigrants are satisfied with getting access to education and employment, others dream bigger and work hard to realize their dreams.

According to a 2016 study conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, 44 out of 87 privately-held startup companies valued at $1 billion and over in the U.S. are founded by immigrants. Immigrants are also key members of management or product development teams in 62 out of 87 of these billion-dollar startups. More importantly, these immigrant-founded startups have created around 760 jobs per company for American citizens.

These numbers illustrate the important contributions of immigrants in the U.S. economy and these are only from a small fraction of immigrant business owners. They also show that immigrants can be highly successful entrepreneurs. If you want to be one of them, you can. Simply follow the steps below on starting a business as an immigrant in the U.S.

1. Follow laws and regulations about business ownership

Like any other business owner, immigrants should follow the rules and regulations surrounding business ownership in the U.S. It’s easier for immigrants who are permanent residents, such as those with a green card, because they can start a business just like any U.S. citizen could. First, they must decide on a business structure, create a company name and assign a registered agent, and register your business. If you’re not a permanent resident, talk to your immigration attorney about your options.

2. Apply for government-issued IDs

Government-issued IDs are essential in conducting everyday business as well as setting up your actual business. Government IDs can be in the form of your Social Security card or if you don’t have a Social Security number, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the IRS. You’ll use these IDs for opening bank accounts, as well as for applying for an Employer Identification Number. The latter is needed for tax purposes if you plan on hiring employees.

3. Create a business plan

Business planning

A business plan details your business goals and how you plan on achieving them. It contains the marketing, operational, and financial plans you have for your business. Apart from using it as your guide in operating, a business plan is needed if you want to borrow business loans from banks.

4. Research and secure financing

Plenty of financing options are available for immigrants, from government grants to Small Business Administration or SBA loans. Immigrants with a green card can also qualify and apply for business loans from traditional banks. With plenty of options, study each one so you can decide which financing option is right for you and your type of business.

5. Open a business bank account

Separating your personal and business accounts helps you get a clear picture of your finances. It’s also important for business so you can manage cash flow and have a clear idea of your business expenses. Using your valid government-issued ID, you’ll be able to easily open a bank account for your business.

Whether you want to start a small business in your local community or you want to start one of the biggest organizations in the U.S., don’t let being an immigrant stop you. As long as you follow the law and work hard, you can realize your dreams of being a business owner.

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