Navigating Types of Business Entities

By NexGen Support Team

December 10, 2023

Navigating Types of Business Entities

Navigating Types of Business Entities

Starting a business in the United States can be daunting, especially if you’re a non-citizen. Not only do you have to navigate the complexities of starting a business, but you must also ensure that you comply with all the legal requirements. This comprehensive guide elucidates the process for non-citizens to embark on their entrepreneurial journey in the United States. We’ll begin by understanding different business structures, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. We’ll then decipher limited liability entities such as LLCs and S Corporations. Next, we’ll cover non-profit and other business types. We will discuss the necessary documents for forming a U.S. company and factors to consider when selecting the appropriate business entity. Finally, we’ll provide helpful resources to make your journey smoother. So let’s get started!

Understanding Different Business Structures

Businesses structured as sole proprietorships involve a single owner responsible for all aspects of the business. Conversely, partnerships involve two or more individuals managing and operating the business together. Corporations are separate legal entities that protect owners from personal liability. LLCs offer a corporation’s limited liability and a partnership’s tax advantages. S Corporations provide tax benefits through pass-through taxation.

Sole Proprietorship

Establishing a sole proprietorship provides unparalleled control over your business. With minimal paperwork and legal requirements, it’s an ideal option for new businesses. However, as a sole proprietor, you are personally accountable for all business debts. Additionally, filing income tax on personal tax returns simplifies your tax obligations. One advantage is that sole proprietorships do not require a separate employer identification number, making the setup process more efficient and less time-consuming.


Partnerships involve the distribution of profits and losses among the partners, sharing personal liability for business debts. A partnership agreement outlines roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing, bringing diverse skills and resources to the business. Additionally, partnerships require a taxpayer identification number for tax filings. Leveraging partnerships is crucial for real estate and business ventures. Understanding corporate law within partnerships is essential for sustainable growth and navigating internal revenue service regulations.


Partnerships involve the distribution of profits and losses among the partners, sharing personal liability for business debts. A partnership agreement outlines roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing, bringing diverse skills and resources to the business. Additionally, partnerships require a taxpayer identification number for tax filings. Leveraging partnerships is crucial for real estate and business ventures. Understanding corporate law within partnerships is essential for sustainable growth and navigating internal revenue service regulations.

Deciphering Limited Liability Entities

Limited Liability Entities, such as LLCs, offer owners protection from personal liability and flexibility in management and profit distribution. LLCs require an operating agreement to outline ownership and operations and will get taxed as sole proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations, depending upon the choice made when filing taxes. Additionally, LLCs avoid double taxation at the entity level. This avoidance of double taxation makes LLCs an attractive option for new businesses and foreign entrepreneurs looking to establish a secure online store without facing corporate tax.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Limited Liability Company (LLC) offers a unique blend of liability protection and flexibility in management. It begins with filing articles of organization with the secretary of state, allowing owners (members) to manage the company directly or appoint managers. LLCs can also choose their tax status, whether as a disregarded entity, partnership, or corporation, providing crucial tax benefits. The absence of double taxation and minimal formalities make LLCs an attractive option for new businesses and foreign entrepreneurs. Secure websites providing information from official government organizations are crucial for LLC formation and management.

S Corporation

S Corporations, also known as S Corps, offer a tax advantage by avoiding double taxation by allocating income, losses, and credits to shareholders. However, businesses must meet strict IRS eligibility criteria to qualify as an S Corp. Additionally, S Corps provides limited liability protection, safeguarding shareholders’ personal assets from business liabilities. Nevertheless, shareholders must adhere to stringent corporate formalities and maintain thorough record-keeping. Furthermore, S Corps are restricted to having no more than 100 shareholders and only one class of stock, ensuring a structured and closely held business entity.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Professional service firms, such as law or accounting practices, commonly prefer Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs). Each partner in an LLP benefits from protection against personal liability for the actions of other partners. Moreover, LLPs necessitate a registered agent for the service of process in every state of operation. An LLP agreement delineates the division of profits, management, and partner responsibilities. Additionally, LLPs provide tax advantages, with income and losses passed through to individual partners.

Non-Profit and Other Business Types

Non-profit organizations strive to fulfill charitable, educational, or social purposes, requiring tax-exempt status from the IRS. Cooperative businesses, owned and operated by members for mutual benefit, are another option. Franchises allow entrepreneurs to utilize an established brand and business model, while home-based businesses offer flexibility and cost savings. Each presents unique opportunities for new business ventures, requiring careful consideration of corporate law and regulations.

Non-profit Organization

Non-profit organizations sustain themselves through donations, grants, and fundraising efforts to support their initiatives. Non-profit organizations must adhere to strict guidelines for tax-exempt status, and a board of directors must oversee them. These organizations can seek financial support from government and private grants. An annual filing of Form 990 is mandatory, revealing financial information to the public and ensuring transparency and accountability.

C Corporation

As a separate legal entity, C-corporation provides limited liability for its owners, ensuring personal asset protection. Despite being subject to double taxation, C corporations have the advantage of issuing stock. They must also follow formalities such as holding annual meetings and maintaining company records. Establishing a C corporation entails filing articles of incorporation, making it a robust choice for entrepreneurs seeking strong liability protection.

What Documents are Needed to Form a U.S. Company?

You must provide certain documents to form a U.S. company as a non-citizen. These include identification (passport or driver’s license) and proof of address. Additional documentation may be required depending on the state. Consult an attorney or business formation service for assistance.

Documents Needed To Start A Business

Ready to Start Your Business?

Ready to take the leap and start your business in the U.S.? Choosing the proper business structure is crucial, considering tax implications, liability, and business goals. Non-citizens may need to secure appropriate visas before starting their U.S. businesses. Obtaining an employer identification number (EIN) for tax purposes and setting up a business bank account is also essential.

  1. Choosing the Right Business Entity for Your Needs: When selecting the most suitable business entity, it’s crucial to consider factors such as liability, taxation, and management structure. The available options encompass sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation, each with distinct implications for personal liability and taxation. Non-citizens should assess how their immigration status impacts their choice of business entity. It is imperative to align the selected business entity with long-term business objectives.
  2. Factors to Consider: When starting a business in the United States, it is crucial to consider several factors. These include evaluating the location, market, and competition to ensure a solid foundation. Carefully assessing the legal and tax implications and personal liability is essential. Understanding the regulatory environment and available business resources is crucial for success. Additionally, considering potential customers, business insurance, and initial investment are critical factors in the planning process. A comprehensive business plan can systematically address these factors, paving the way for a successful venture.
  3. Can I Open a Business While Working on a Visa?: Starting a business in the U.S. as a non-citizen is possible but comes with legal and tax complexities. The type of business entity you can establish may depend on your visa and residency status. Compliance with federal and state laws, understanding tax implications, and seeking legal counsel are crucial for non-citizen entrepreneurs.
  4. What corporate entities can I open in the U.S. as a non-resident?: As a non-resident, you have various options for opening corporate entities in the U.S. Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations are popular choices. It’s essential to consider the implications of each structure on taxation, liability, and management. Additionally, your immigration status will impact your selection. Seeking expert advice is crucial to understanding the available options and establishing a suitable corporate entity.
  5. Will I Need a Visa to Open a U.S. Business?: Non-citizens looking to start a business in the U.S. may need a visa, depending on their role and the nature of the business. The appropriate visa category will vary based on business activities and individual qualifications, such as the E-2 investor visa or L-1 intracompany transferee visa. Seeking legal advice can help determine the right visa option.
  6. Choose the State for Formation: When deciding where to form a business, it’s crucial to consider tax laws, the business environment, and industry regulations. Each state has specific requirements for creating and operating a business entity, impacting tax obligations, business regulations, and legal considerations for non-citizens. For foreign entrepreneurs, the state of formation can significantly affect their business operations. Making an informed decision about the state of formation is essential for the success of a new business venture.
  7. Obtain a Registered Agent: Obtaining a registered agent is essential when starting a business in the U.S. This designated registered agent is responsible for receiving legal and official documents on behalf of the business, ensuring compliance with state requirements. The registered agent’s physical address is where legal notices and official government correspondence are delivered, which is crucial in ensuring that essential communications reach non-citizen business owners promptly. A registered agent service can help maintain compliance with state regulations, facilitating smooth business operations.
  8. Obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number: Non-citizens need a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to conduct business in the United States. Two types of TINs exist: Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you are eligible for a Social Security Number, you should obtain an EIN. However, you can apply for an ITIN through the IRS if you are not eligible. Understanding the difference between EIN and ITIN is essential when obtaining a TIN as a non-citizen.
  9. Set Up a Business Bank Account: Setting up a business bank account involves thoroughly researching various banks’ requirements. Having all necessary documents, including the tax identification number and business registration paperwork. Consider choosing a bank experienced in working with non-citizens. Select an account type that suits your business needs and budget. Keep accurate financial records and regularly review account activity to prevent issues or discrepancies. This process ensures your new business is set up for financial success and complies with corporate law.

Maintain Business Compliance

Maintaining business compliance involves:

  • Adhering to federal, state, and local regulations, including completing annual reports.
  • Paying fees.
  • Renewing business licenses.
  • Fulfilling tax obligations.
  • Maintaining accurate financial records.
  • Additionally, businesses must comply with employment laws, such as providing workers’ compensation. Ensuring ongoing compliance helps maintain the good standing of the business entity, ensure smooth operations, and avoid legal issues.

    Helpful Resources

    Understanding the various types of visas available for non-citizens aiming to open a new business in the U.S. is crucial. Researching state and federal requirements, such as registration and licenses, and seeking guidance from legal and financial experts is essential. Leveraging resources like SCORE and the Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade can provide valuable support. Additionally, networking with successful non-citizen entrepreneurs and accessing professional mentoring can offer valuable insights for navigating the complexities of starting a business in the U.S.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the Requirements for Non-citizens to Start a Business in the United States?

    Requirements for non-citizens to start a business in the United States include:

  • Having legal status (such as a Green Card or work visa).
  • Registering as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.
  • Obtaining an EIN from the IRS.
  • Seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer or business advisor.
  • What Types of Visas are Available for Non-citizens Who Want to Start a Business in the U.S.?

    As such, you don’t need a visa to start a business in the United States. However, non-citizens who wish to start a business in the U.S. have visa options such as E-2, L-1, and EB-5. E-2 is for investors from treaty countries, L-1 is for multinational companies transferring executives or managers, and EB-5 is for foreign investors looking to invest a minimum amount and create jobs in the U.S.

    Are There Any Restrictions on Which Industries Non-citizens Can Start a Business In?

    Non-citizens can start businesses in most industries, but there may be restrictions. Certain industries may require specific licenses or approvals for which non-citizens may not be eligible. It’s essential to consult with an attorney or business advisor to ensure compliance with regulations. Restricted industries include defense and national security, natural resources, and transportation.

    What Legal and Financial Considerations Should Non-citizens Consider When Starting a Business in the U.S.?

    Choosing the appropriate business entity depends on liability, taxes, and management structure. Options include sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, S-corporation, and C-corporation. Consulting an attorney or accountant can help determine the best fit for your needs. Understand legal implications and tax consequences before deciding.

    What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Type of Business Entity?

    Advantages and disadvantages vary for each type of business entity. At a high level, a Sole proprietorship is easy to set up but comes with unlimited personal liability. LLCs offer limited liability protection but require more paperwork and fees. Corporations provide high liability protection but may face double taxation.

    What is a Sole Proprietorship, and How Does it Differ From Other Business Entities?

    A sole proprietorship is a business entity where the owner and the business are not legally separate. Unlike LLCs or corporations, sole proprietors are personally liable for the business’s debts. While easy to set up, they may offer fewer legal protections and tax benefits. Consult with professionals to determine the best entity for your needs.

    What is a Partnership, and What are the Different Types of Partnerships Available?

    Partnership is a business structure where multiple individuals share ownership and responsibilities. The main types include general, limited, and limited liability partnerships. In a general partnership, all partners have equal responsibility and liability. Limited partnerships have partners who are only liable up to their investment amount.

    What is a Corporation, and How Does it Differ From Other Business Entities?

    A corporation is a distinct legal entity with separate ownership and management. Shareholders own the corporation and elect a board of directors to oversee its operations. Unlike other business entities, corporations offer limited liability, protecting shareholders from personal responsibility for the company’s debts or legal issues.

    What is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), and What are its Benefits?

    A limited liability company (LLC) is a legal business offering limited personal liability protection. It provides flexibility in management and taxation, allowing owners to choose their desired tax structure. With less paperwork than corporations, LLCs offer benefits like asset protection, pass-through taxation, and easy formation.

    How do Taxes Work for Each Type of Business Entity?

    Taxes can vary for business entities based on income, location, and industry. Corporations are taxed separately and may face double taxation. Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are generally taxed as pass-through entities, while sole proprietors report on personal tax returns. Consult a tax professional for specific guidance.


    Starting a business in the United States as a non-citizen may seem complex, but it is achievable with the proper guidance and understanding. Remember, choosing the right business structure and complying with all legal requirements is crucial. It’s always helpful to seek professional advice and guidance throughout the process. If you have any further questions or need assistance starting your business, please get in touch with NexGen Taxes’ team of experts. We are here to help you navigate the intricacies and ensure a smooth journey towards your entrepreneurial dreams.