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Setting up a U.S. Company as a Non-Resident

Can non-U.S. residents set up a business here in the United States? While the answer is yes, not many foreign business owners are aware of this. The U.S. has welcomed foreign businesses for quite some time and will likely continue to do so in the future. Every day, foreign nationals are establishing or expanding their business operations to the U.S. — from major corporations to small shops.

Starting a new business, or expanding your existing business to a new country, can be an exciting, yet challenging endeavor. The complexity of setting up a business in a foreign country can be overwhelming, especially with the political and economic uncertainties of today’s business climate. In order to succeed in their ventures, non-citizens should follow the necessary steps and take advantage of all the resources available to them.

Types of Business Entities You Can Open in the U.S.

There are currently two types of business entities that non-residents can form in the U.S.:


An LLC, or limited liability company, is arguably the best business structure to use when forming a business in the U.S. The terms “limited liability” mean that members are protected from personal liability for business decisions or actions, and personal assets are safe if the company incurs debt or is sued. LLCs are also exempt from the strict bookkeeping requirements used for C and S-corporations. 


A corporation, sometimes called a C-Corp, offers the strongest protection to its owners against personal liability, however the cost to form a corporation is higher than other business structures. The most significant advantage to forming a corporation is the ability to expand by offering unlimited stock; this is often highly attractive to investors. The downside is that, unlike LLCs, corporations are taxed on their profits and, in some cases, are obligated to pay double. 

Will You Need a Visa to Open a U.S. Business?

Technically, you can start and own a business in the U.S. without being an American citizen. Managing an LLC or corporation from outside the U.S. is allowed, but you will not be permitted to enter the country without a legitimate work visa. If you have any questions or need additional details on applying for a visa, contact the U.S. Embassy in your home country or the U.S. Commercial Service. There are various U.S. business visas to choose from, but the most popular among entrepreneurs is the E-2 visa. There are three main qualifications for obtaining an E-2 visa, including:

  1. You must be a citizen of a country that is part of a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, or Navigation with the U.S.
  2. You must have already invested or be planning to invest a significant amount of capital in a U.S. business (at least $100K)
  3. You must be able to show proof that you have controlling ownership (50% or more) of your business

In some instances, an entrepreneur may be eligible for a “Green Card through Investment”, which would make them a permanent resident of the U.S. However, the law only applies to foreign investors who are able to invest $1 million (or a minimum of $500,000 in targeted employment areas) in a new commercial business.

Where Should You Register Your Business

When you are planning to set up a business in the U.S., choosing the right location is perhaps the most important decision you will make. This process includes consideration of several factors, such as: demographics; access to supply chain and markets; competition; state laws and taxes; and much more. The final location selected should be one that fulfills business objectives in the most cost-effective manner, which may involve a trade-off between cost and quality factors. You may want to consider hiring a U.S. attorney to help you register your business properly. At Choose New Jersey, we can leverage our extensive network of public and private partners and connect you with the best legal expert for your business needs. 

What is the Process For Registering Your Company?

The process for registration will differ slightly from state to state, and is somewhat dependent on whether you are forming an LLC or a corporation. After you’ve decided on a business structure and place to set up your business, you will need to complete the following steps: 

  1. Choose a unique name for your LLC or C Corp
  2. Hire a registered agent service
  3. File for incorporation with the state
  4. Get an employer identification number (EIN)
  5. Obtain a physical U.S. mailing address
  6. Set up a U.S. bank account

Set Up Your Business in New Jersey

Are you searching for the best home for your new or expanding business? New Jersey provides a unique opportunity for businesses in a wide range of industries, from life sciences to advanced manufacturing. Our strategic East Coast location, highly-educated workforce, and robust infrastructure allow both domestic and foreign companies to grow quickly and thrive for years to come. Home to more than 1,100 multinational companies and 225 foreign company headquarters, New Jersey has a history of embracing diversity and continues to welcome companies of all sizes looking to reach the North American market. 

How Choose New Jersey Can Help

If you are planning to grow your business in New Jersey, there are several resources available to you – and they’re free! Choose New Jersey is committed to being your trusted economic development partner, offering a wide range of relocation and expansion services to non-U.S. residents. Many international-based companies have already integrated their operations here with the help of our experts. To learn more about how your business can succeed in NJ, please contact us today or use the multi-step form below.

Fill out the form to learn more about what New Jersey has to offer.
Once the form is complete, you’ll get access to guides for your industry and a representative will contact you with additional details.

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Relocation & Expansion Services

We provide customized RFI responses, demographics, detailed market assessments and other complimentary business relocation and expansion services. When your company chooses to grow in New Jersey, we also will help you publicize your good news.

Site Visits

We’ll make your property search seamless, so you find the site that best meets your relocation or expansion needs.

Economic Development Connections

Our public and private partners provide a wide range of services. From higher education research collaboration to regulatory and legal assistance to workforce training, they’ll ensure you have a smooth landing.

Bill Noonan
Chief Business Development Officer
Ryan Fox
Senior Business Development Officer