Starting a business in a foreign country tend to be a huge challenge to many people. However, many countries have put in places measures that make it easy for foreign investors to register and run companies. So, how can you start a business while you’re on employment visa in Singapore, UK and USA.
For a foreigner to start a business in Singapore, you must acquire a right work visa such as the EntrePass or the Employment Pass (EP) from the Ministry of Manpower. The most ideal option is the Entrepass, which allows one to register a private limited company in Singapore with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Other options for starting a business while on work visa including starting a subsidiary company or setting up a branch office in Singapore.
During the company registration process, you are required to engage a professional service provider to submit the application on your behalf. This many include a law firm, a company secretary, an accounting firm, or any person providing company secretary services in Singapore. Although Singapore allows companies to be owned 100% by a foreigner, you will need to have a local company director. You can either nominate someone that you know or hire a director from local companies that offer nominee director services to help foreigner satisfy this requirement. You will also need to submit the details of your company directors and shareholders, company secretary, and registered office address.
For you to start and run a business in UK, you need one of the three types of UK work available for those who want to work in self-employed or freelance capacity. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is available for individuals who want to set up and run a business in the UK. The visa is valid for 3 years to individuals who have access to at least £50,000 of investment funds, and can be extended up to an additional 3 years. Another option is Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, which is available for graduates with business ideas endorsed by either a qualifying UK higher education institution or the UK Department of International Trade. The validity of the visa is 1 year with the option of extending for a further year. The is also the option of Tier 1 (Investor) visa, which is available to individuals willing to invest at least £2 million in the UK. The validity of the visa is 3 years with the option of extending for further 2 years.
Once you have your visa, the next step is to consider the legal structure of your business depending on what your business will do. They include sole trade, partnership, limited liability partnership (LLP), and limited company. Next, you will need to incorporate your business if it is a company. For a limited company, you can register or use an intermediary to register with Companies House. The last step is to register for tax with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as a Self-Assessment taxpayer and set up your business.
In the USA, individuals wishing to start a business can do so under the E-1 Treaty Trader visa scheme, E-2 Treaty Investor visa, or the L-1 intra-company transfer. The E-1 visa can be used when setting up a business that will trade with visa-holder’s home country. The visa requires the home country of the visa holder to have an appropriate treaty with the US. The E-2 visa allows a citizen of a treaty company to start a business in the US. On the other hand, the L-1 visa allows the holder to transfer a foreign company to become a US company.
Once you have the appropriate visa, you need to decide the structure for your business and register the business in the state where it will be located. Next, register for taxation with the tax authorities. You will be required to provider an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for the business, which is obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You may also be required to provide a Sales Tax permit from the state where the business is operating. Make sure that you capitalize your business with assets or cash to meet the state requirement, before setting up other things that a business need.
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