Itching to take full advantage of the American Dream as an immigrant?

You certainly aren’t alone, and your desire doesn’t have to be a long shot in the slightest.

In fact, immigrants of all shapes and sizes have “made it” in the United States through innovative ideas, perseverance and strong work ethic.

From tech start-ups and traditional brick-and-mortar ships, there is and always has been a distinct window of opportunity available for immigrants.

Of course, making such a dream a reality requires some distinct decisions and considerations. No matter what your big idea might be, consider the following four pointers for doing business in the United States as an immigrant or expat.

business immigrants

Sort Out Your Paperwork First and Foremost

First thing’s first: doing business in America means taking care of some in-depth legalese. Specifically, the fine details of your work visa.

With ever-changing immigration legislation, there’s no denying that this process can be both stressful and tedious. Depending on your situation, it could indeed take years to get everything in order to realistically do business on U.S. soil.

But rather than despair, it pays for aspiring expats to be proactive. Perhaps Lisa Rough of Remitly puts it best: “If you give yourself enough time to do research and prepare the documents needed for the particular visa you’re applying for, you’ll have a higher chance of having your visa approved on the first try.”

The takeaway here is that if you’re serious about doing business in another country, you need to be willing to do the legwork. This means getting started sooner rather than later, too.


Decide Between a Digital vs. In-Person Business

Location is a huge factor in the success of any given business. This means making a big decision of not only where you’ll set up shop, but also whether or not you need to worry about where you’re at in terms of geography.

The top U.S. cities for immigrants such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago all have the common threads of being bustling metro areas with thriving immigrant populations. That said, they also have higher costs of living and competition in terms of your potential customer base.

On the flip side, starting a totally remote company means you don’t have to play the waiting game for your visa as you can start sowing the seeds of your business today. Likewise, consumers at large are more comfortable than ever with working with remote companies which can be founded on a shoestring budget.

It all really boils down to your business idea which leads us directly to our next point.


Pick a Business Idea That Speaks to Your Skill Set

There are dozens of business ideas out there which makes for a daunting choice. While you obviously want to choose something profitable with a relatively low initial investment, immigrants in particular should really look into business ideas that speak to their unique backgrounds.

For example, try to brainstorm ideas that take advantage of your bilingualism or ability to translate. Such skills are in extremely high demand and allow you to market directly to a customer base of fellow immigrants. Likewise, anything that’s an extension of your past experience (for example, tech or IT) is totally fair game.


Consider a Side Hustle First

For those who are already settled in the United States, you may be wondering if you have the chops to start your own business.

In order to find out, why not test the waters?

Given that your immigrant status may be contingent on your employment, simply up and quitting your current gig more than likely isn’t an option. As such, a side hustle that allows you to get down to business during your free time can help you validate your idea rather than going “all in” on the unknown.

Doing business in the United States as an immigrant is more than possible as long as you have the right expectations. With these tips in mind, you can better zero in on what you need to do to get started and likewise choose a business idea that makes sense.