Can you buy a business in USA as a foreigner?
The article discusses can you buy a business in USA as a foreigner? The answer is yes, as a foreigner you can buy a business in USA. In fact, you can buy a business as a passive investor where you are not involved in the day-to-day management of the business and you continue to reside in your country or you can buy a business in USA and be actively involved in the management of the company in the United States but in this last case, you will need to obtain a visa that allows you to work in the United States and be compliant with U.S. immigration laws. For example, you can buy a restaurant in Miami as a foreigner and hire a local management team and reside outside of the United States and in this case, you do not need a work visa; or, you can buy an art gallery in Miami, Florida and choose to manage the business from the United States and in this case, you need to obtain a work visa. However, before discussing the topic in-depth, it is important to keep in mind that there are other aspects you should take into consideration when buying a business in USA as a foreigner and one of the most important is the tax consequence of doing business in the United States.
Buying a business in USA as a foreigner: Advantages and Restrictions
The United States welcomes foreign investment whether that is in direct investments where you participate significantly in the operation or control of the US business or it is in portfolio investments where you have equity (or you are debtholder or lender) but you do not participate substantially in the operation of the business. This attitude translates into the ability of foreigners to do business in the United States with ease, including to buy a business in USA generally without restrictions although there are few exceptions. In certain sectors, U.S. federal laws restrict the percentage of foreign ownership and some of these sectors are banking, radio & television broadcasting, aviation, marine transportation and fishing, insurance, defence industries, mineral leases and resources, electric, gas and utility services and agricultural land. In other words, you can buy nearly any business in USA as a foreigner, but if the business provides goods or services in one of the sectors that may restrict foreign ownership either at a federal level or at a state level, it is recommended that you contact a US licensed business lawyer to assist you with your purchase.
Moreover, to buy a business in USA as a foreigner you generally do not need approval from any federal, state or local governmental authority except for certain limited circumstances discussed above. Most importantly, when you buy a business in USA as a foreigner, you may qualify for various federal, state and local investment incentive programs and some states and local government assist with grants, direct loans and guarantees of loans for investments.
And this brings us to the second point that while investment by foreigners is welcomed in the United States and restrictions on doing business are relaxed, the U.S. system is complex, especially for first time investors. So, even when buying a business as a foreigner, you need to consider that your business in USA may be subject to licensing by the state or federal government or both and you may be subject to certain licensing restrictions prior to operating the business. However, this is not the general rule, but depending on the business sector, certain businesses are regulated by the states and/or the federal government and may require licenses from both the state and federal government. Aside from this, cities and municipalities also regulate businesses within their jurisdiction, and you may need to obtain various permits and licenses from the local government and report the change of ownership when buying the business in USA. It is this layered interplay of state and federal laws and local rules, regulations and ordinances that make the United States an attractive and safe country to buy a business in as a foreigner.
Buying a business in USA as a foreigner: Right to Work
Now, while you can buy a business in USA as a foreigner, with or without US partners, you are not permitted to perform any duties for your new business while you are physically present in the United States unless you have a visa that allows you to work for the business. However, it is possible for you to buy and own the business in USA and act as a director without a visa, but you cannot perform day-to-day activities from the United States. As a foreigner, if you want to come to US to work for the business you are planning to buy you need to obtain a U.S. visa that authorizes you to work. There are various business visas that allow foreign business owners, investor or entrepreneurs to come to the USA and work for their business such as E-1, E-2, L-1, O-1, TN, E-3 visas and others.
How can Malescu Law assist?
Our business and immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA assist foreigners with legal, business and regulatory advice for setting up companies in USA, buying a business in USA and obtaining a business visa for their endeavors. Contact us today.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business Lawyers