The United States was built in large part by immigrants who came to America with the dream of launching businesses of their own. According to Pew Research Institute, opportunity still abounds for those looking to start their own ventures. To be successful requires ensuring you have your business registered in an appropriate way, are working under the appropriate immigration status, and selecting a business name that’s representative of your company.

Never Too Late To Start is an organization that provides expert leadership advice, access to funding, networking opportunities and more for those inspired to become entrepreneurs.

Immigration Status

It’s recommended that immigrants interested in starting a U.S.-based business consult an immigration attorney to ensure they have the appropriate immigration status for what they want to achieve. This will help ensure you are operating in a way that doesn’t impact your ability to apply for citizenship or a visa in the future. Immigration classes related to employment include work, student and business visas, naturalized citizenship, and permanent resident status. There are different requirements and limitations associated with each that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with.

Much of the process will be dependent on what type of operation you plan to launch and what type of funding you might want to apply for. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, you may also need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Positioning yourself in such a way that you can apply for credit in the U.S. may be an important element of your pre-opening plans.

Business Start-Up

Although there are some factors specific to immigrant-run businesses, a number of basic operational business start-up requirements remain the same. You’ll want to ensure you have a corporate structure that protects your assets, like a limited liability company, which you easily register through an SAAS formation service. How you name your business is also important, as you’ll want something that clearly conveys your services to your target demographic and develop brand recognition. Developing a business plan will also be critical to developing operational objectives, as well as a necessity if you’re seeking funding via loan or grant.

Special Challenges To Consider

Immigrants can potentially face challenges related to language barriers, which must be considered — particularly when reaching out to target audiences, putting together employee teams, and implementing marketing and advertising plans. It’s also necessary to understand U.S. employment law, especially if you’re hiring other immigrants as employees. Knowledge of U.S. tax law is also important. Even if you utilize an accounting firm, it’s still incumbent upon you, as the business owner, to ensure that you are operating within the parameters of U.S. law.

You may be able to find assistance, guidance, and advice through your local chamber of commerce. There may also be business groups and subsets of chambers that focus exclusively on niche demographics — for example, Latinx chambers of commerce — that can be an asset in helping you navigate business start-up waters.

Maintaining Family Relationships

As an immigrant far from home, you’ll likely want to maintain a long-distance relationship with loved ones in your home country. Fortunately, technology has made this somewhat easier: you can continue to nurture those ties through electronic means like Zoom, a popular platform for video calling family members with backgrounds and filters that make it feel less formal. If you’re supporting loved ones in other ways, such as sending funds or goods, shop around for the best pricing so that you don’t stretch your budget too thin. Immigrants who are sending support back home to The Philippines, as one example, have many safe, budget-friendly options at their fingertips: Skyscanner offers cheap fare alerts for flights from Manila Ninoy Aquino to the US (and vice versa), and ParcelMonkey makes frequent care packages a possibility through reduced shipping rates.

Starting a company is often considered an element of the American Dream — though, for non-natives, it’s a dream that requires extra legwork. Ensuring you are well-versed in U.S. law around business formation, start-up, and operations is an important element of success.

Written by: Vivek Mukherjee