Can a non-US citizen own a business in America?

Yes. You can own part of an American company without living here. As Rick said, there are some caveats such as not making the government’s list of bad guys. You or your co-founder who lives in the United States can choose to incorporate the business in any state you’d like. Of course, you might find it easier if your co-founder does it since that person is here in the States. Let’s talk about the basic steps that need to be taken:

1. You and your co-founder decide on the best type of business entity. No one can make this decision for either of you, but business attorneys and even tax attorney may have some tips that you’d find useful in making the decision. Of course, taxes are one of those things. You also need to look at the tax laws in your country. The two of you should choose the most beneficial business entity for both of you.

2. You and your co-founder should choose the state. A person can set-up their business in any state. A couple of things to consider include whether the laws in the state are particularly friendly to businesses and taxes. For instance, in California, an LLC has to pay an additional tax each year of around $800 even if the business didn’t turn a profit. Keep in mind that your business will likely need to register as a foreign corporation in any other state in which it does business. So, if your partner is in Florida and that’s where the business is incorporated, and the business is active in Montana, Texas, and New York, your business would need to register as a foreign corporation in those three states.

3. You will need a registered agent for the business. It may be easiest to incorporate the business in whatever state your co-founder lives in because then that person could act as your registered agent.

4. Decide whether you would rather do it yourself or hire a third-party or attorney. If you or your co-founder do it yourself, it’s less expensive. You decide on the type of business, go to the Secretary of State website to get the right documents, complete them, and return them with the filing fee. Of course, you’d need to provide any other documents asked of you depending on the business formation you choose. You can hire a third-party that specializes in helping you start your business and they may also act as a registered agent for an additional fee. While you are likely working with someone whose gone through the process many times, they may not be a legal or tax expert. Working with an attorney is generally a little more expensive, but it is an investment into your business. You get the insight that you need to choose the best formation for your needs.

If you’d like to talk with an attorney about your options, consider LawTrades. We are a legal marketplace that is disrupting the legal space by providing an easy-to-use platform to hire and work with quality, vetted lawyers. We offer things like transparent flat-fees, complimentary consults and a satisfaction guarantee. Good luck!