Standing as the 4th largest economy in the nation, the state of Florida is one of the best places to own a business in America – both for US citizens and foreign entrepreneurs. However, the process of establishing a business on US soil as a foreign citizen may be quite complicated without proper preparation.
In this article, you will discover how to open a business in Florida as a non-US citizen.
Establishing a Business in Florida as a Foreigner – Which US Visa Should I Apply For?
Foreign entrepreneurs looking into expanding or opening a business in the United States have two main options available. First, there is the E-2 visa (Treaty Investors Visa), which offers a broader scope of opportunity for prospective applicants.
To qualify for an E-2 visa, applicants must meet the eligibility criteria, which include:
- Being a legal citizen of a treaty country
- To have invested or be currently investing in the United States
- To invest a substantial amount of capital into a US business enterprise
- Agreeing to return to his/her home country once the visa expires
As provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a treaty country is a “country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, or maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation.”
While there is no standard minimum amount required for E-2 applicants, USCIS provides that a substantial amount of capital refers to an amount that is “substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one.”
The second option is the EB-5 visa, also known as the Employment-Based Visa Fifth Preference or EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Created in 1990 to stimulate the American economy by attracting foreign investment, this option is strictly in terms of investment.
As of December 2021, USCIS provides that “the required standard minimum investment amount of $1 million and the minimum investment amount for investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) of $500,000.”
Additionally, the investment must create or maintain at least ten full-time permanent jobs for qualified US workers. Ultimately, these two visa options are the legal pathway for foreign entrepreneurs who want to call America home.
Establishing a Business in Florida as a Foreigner – What’s the Ideal Business Structure?
There are some limitations that foreign citizens face when choosing the type of business structure for their endeavors. In the United States, entrepreneurs who are not US citizens nor lawful permanent residents cannot establish an S corporation.
Typically, the most common option for foreign entrepreneurs is opening a C-corporation. Although it may not offer the same flexibility as a limited liability company (LLC), it will permit the owner(s) to grow and expand the business without necessarily being wholly based in the country.
Additionally, C-corporations are the best options for businesses who seek venture funding, as these businesses have a more appealing platform for investment funds and venture capitalists.
Furthermore, there are several complexities associated with the chosen type of business structure and the company’s niche, such as:
- Tax-related responsibilities
- Intellectual property
- Regulations exclusive to specific business segments (e.g., food & beverage)
- Employee law
- Regulatory compliance at the federal and state level
Accordingly, it is virtually impossible to open a business in Florida as a foreigner without the guidance of an expert business immigration attorney.
How to Open a Business in Florida as a Foreigner – Immediately Seek Professional Guidance
At Jurado & Associates P.A., we have a decade of experience with international entrepreneurs who relied on our legal expertise to achieve the American dream. Waste no time – call Attorney Romy B. Jurado today at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.