How does a foreigner start a business in America?

Generally, you have three options: 1) do it completely on your own; 2) use a “do it yourself” (DIY) service; and 3) hire an attorney to take care of it.

DIY: Certainly the most cost-effective route as you’ll only have to pay filing fees and, depending on where you live, a registered agent and lost time. Realistically, the process of incorporating is not overly complicated and can probably be done on your own. The problem a lot of people will run into is that they will rush to incorporate, and / or use boiler-plate forms they find online as their incorporation papers. At first, this may not pose an issue. Years later though stuff can come up as a result of your hack job incorporation. For example, when your business starts scaling and you realize the corporate structure you chose during filing is not the best for your company, you will need to take certain steps to do so.

DIY services: In addition to the filing fees listed above, you could pay a service provider to file the documents for you. After answering a few questions some companies charge $75-$500 to prepare and file the documents for you. Be aware that these companies, like typically up sell for unnecessary services / add-ons. Also, keep in mind the incorporation packages offered by DIY services often don’t include the important post-formation docs you need.

Hire a lawyer: Hiring an attorney during the business formation stage is the ideal move to make for foreign individuals. An attorney can help you answer tough questions and prepare to do business in the US. Should your business start-out as an S-Corp then convert to a C-Corp down the road? Would setting up your C-Corp in your home state be more advantageous than incorporating in Delaware? These are common questions that need to be explored prior to incorporating. Also, as you grow your company, you might run into issues concerning employee agreements, protecting intellectual property, raising capital and more – areas of legal that a lawyer can help you organize from day one. Lastly, the nagging question of “did I mess this up” is eliminated when you hire an attorney.

If you’re interested in forming your business with the assistance of a startup attorney then check out LawTrades. We’re a legal marketplace that makes it easy for entrepreneurs to hire experienced attorneys at great prices. Our attorneys have helped hundreds of non-US citizens do business in the US. We offer free initial consultations and flat-fee pricing. Good luck!