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An Immigrant's Guide to Entrepreneurial Success in the U.S.

Share! 3/2/2021

Immigrant's Guide to Entrepreneurial Success

Many immigrants to the U.S. dream of the opportunities that America has to offer. That dream often includes starting one’s own business. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you can achieve your ambition. If you are not a permanent resident, there may be added obstacles, but there are steps that you can take to fulfill your goals.


Challenges of Starting a New Business

As an immigrant, you may face extra challenges, particularly when it comes to language and culture. Successful entrepreneurs warn against letting the language barrier hold you back. If you worry that your accent or command of the language will stifle your business, remember that your talents and skills are more telling.


There are other challenges, too. The APA points out that there is an adjustment period for all immigrants — business owners included. You may feel homesick and miss your family and your customs.


Stay in contact with your family. The more you call, text or engage on social media, the closer you can feel to your family and friends. Long-distance relationships are difficult if you do not put effort into the contact, and most communication methods are generally free.


Of course, the occasional visit in-person makes a big difference in maintaining connections, but costs add up. Ensure you’re getting the best prices on travel arrangements by researching them through online services. For instance, if you call Angeles, Philippines home, you can use sites like Expedia to search for the best deals on flights and hotels. Want to send a balikbayan gift box? Shippo lets you compare courier services for your best deal. If you have a family to support back home, similarly check to make sure you don’t lose your hard-earned money to bank fees. Check exchange rates and learn about any transfer fees that a money transfer service may require to send your money to another country.


Visas That Support Entrepreneurs

The U.S. encourages entrepreneurs to immigrate to investigate economic opportunities. Visas to look into include:

  1. B-1 Business Visitor
  2. H-1B Specialty Occupation
  3. F-1/OPT Optional Practical Training


A B-1 visa allows you to come to the U.S. to look at office space, attend business meetings or negotiate contracts. You can stay for six months.


An H-1B visa is for those who plan to work for a business initially. You have to be in a field such as science, engineering or mathematics that requires a bachelor’s degree. With an H-1B visa, you can eventually become a permanent resident and start your own business.


An F-1/OPT visa is for those studying in the U.S. This visa allows you to stay for 12 months and then another 12 months if you seek a postgraduate degree. If you obtain a STEM degree, you could have a 17-month extension.


Structures to Choose From

Nerdwallet explains choosing the business structure of your company is more important than many think. Your business structure determines how you fill out your taxes and what types of profit you make. Additionally, it affects financial risk and liability. Note that until you become a citizen of the U.S., you are limited to starting a C-corp or LLC. A C-corporation offers limited liability protection, but you will essentially be taxed twice. A limited liability company (LLC) limits your personal liability and cuts out the second taxation. 


Funding for Business Success

Immigrant small business owners have funding options available to them. SBA loans are common and if you have a working visa or are a permanent resident, you are eligible to apply. There are also grants available to immigrants that can help you take your venture to the next level.


Entrepreneurs can also use crowdfunding campaigns to start a business. If you have a good idea and present it well, the public may support you. Other funding options include short-term business loans, business credit cards and loans from friends or family. Marketing is important to get the most out of financing, so to put your business out there, post on local business sites like Wisconsin Buys Local.


Starting a business as an immigrant is full of obstacles. However, if you separate your challenges into smaller tasks, it is easier to reach your ultimate goal.


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