Can a foreigner Buy a business in the US?
Yes, foreigners can purchase businesses, real estate and make portfolio investments in the United States with some exceptions in certain sectors where US federal law restricts the percentage of foreign ownership. Some of these sectors are finance and insurance, radio and television broadcasting, air and maritime transport, defense industries, the mining sector, and public services.
On the other hand, foreigners can establish, like Americans and residents, new domestic companies under the legal form of a corporation (limited company) or a limited liability company (LLC).
If the foreign investor wishes to actively participate in the management of his company in the United States, he must obtain a visa that allows him to work and comply with domestic immigration laws. There are several visas that foreign investors usually apply for, such as the E-2, EB5, L1, H1B, and O1 visas.
How can I Buy a business in Florida?
As business brokers, our role is to help you find a good business in Florida that will serve you to cover your living needs and at the same time support your visa application. To find you the right business we require you to provide us with the following information:
- Your name and last name
- Your postal address (Home or office)
- Your phone
- Your Email
- Type of business you would like to invest in
- Amount to invest
- Region of Florida where you want to operate
- Any additional suggestions?
Based on your preferences, we will present you with several specific business alternatives for sale in Florida so that you can choose the ones that are of interest to you.
If you want to explore for yourself the universe of businesses for sale in Florida, you can use the search engine found on our site. negociosenflorida.com where you will find the video “How to Use the Search Engine” and the “Steps to Buy a Business in Florida.”
What happens when I find a business I want to buy?
Once you identify the right business, the process of evaluating its attributes begins. The statistics and preliminary information provided by the Broker will serve as input for the first meeting with the business owner. There you will find out about the details of the management of the company and, if your perception is positive, you will proceed to place a purchase offer that, if accepted by the seller, will allow you to analyze the accounting, administrative, financial, labor and business market (Due Diligence). The essential purpose of the offer is to verify the veracity of the information provided by the seller when he placed the business for sale, before closing the purchase transaction.
Once all aspects of interest have been reviewed and the buyer is satisfied with their analysis, the closing documents will be prepared.
Do I need a visa to Buy a business in the US?
No, to own a business in the US you do not need to be a citizen or resident. Foreigners can register their anonymous or limited liability companies without having to live in the United States, but to work in their companies they must opt for a visa. The most used visas by foreign entrepreneurs are the following:
- E-2 Investor Visa: The E2 visa category favors nationals of countries that have signed bilateral investment treaties with the US To obtain the E2 visa and keep it in force, the beneficiary must invest in a company and be in charge of its operations. Although the regulation deals with "a substantial investment", the practice indicates that the minimum investment amount in a company could be over $100,000. The E2 visa does not lead to permanent residence (Green Card) but can be renewed as long as the beneficiary is operating the business satisfactorily. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an E2 visa beneficiary can obtain the same status if they appear accompanying the petitioner. People who can apply for the E2 visa must be nationals of the following countries that have signed investment agreements with the US:
Source: Bureau of Consular Affairs. US Department of State.
Cameroon, Congo, Liberia, Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia
Bangladesh, Taiwan, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Macedonia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama
Albania, Germany, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Spain, Finland, France, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, England, Denmark and Estonia.
Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan and Turkey.
Canada and Mexico
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Suriname
Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad–Tobago
- Investor Visa EB-5: An EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa to the US that benefits the petitioner, spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21 by granting resident status. The program is designed to attract foreign capital and business people in exchange for the right to permanent residence.
To qualify for the benefits of the EB-5 visa, the investor must invest in a company $1,000,000 o $500,000 if the investment is in a high-unemployment area, and create 10 U.S. jobs. The residence ("green card") is granted initially conditional and for two years. If at the end of that period the investor evidences that the conditions of the investment were maintained and that at least 10 jobs were created, the “green card” will become permanent. We make no mention of the “Regional Immigrant Investor Centers” program because the statutory authority related to the EB-5 Program expired at midnight on June 30, 2021. Congress and USCIS are expected to produce a legal platform that replaces and improve the program.
- L-1 Executive Transfer Visas: Applies to foreigners who perform managerial functions abroad and are transferred from the foreign company to its affiliate or subsidiary in the US The advantage of the L-1 visa is that the beneficiary can eventually adjust their immigration status and become a resident permanent in the US The applicant must have worked outside the country for the foreign company for a continuous period of at least one year within the last three years. The foreign company must be operating, possess the necessary qualifications and continue to do business for the duration of the visa. The L-1 visa is usually issued for an initial period of one year if the North American company is new or 3 years if it is an ongoing company. The term of coverage of the visa can be extended for up to seven consecutive years.
- H1B Hired Professional Visa: This visa is issued in favor of foreign professionals who have a degree in university careers of more than four years of study or who show evidence of having four years of experience in the field for each year of university performance. The candidate for this visa must have a sponsoring entity in the US that issues a work contract authorized by the Department of Labor. Each year issuance quotas of 65,000 H-1B visas are usually established. The visa is granted for three years and can only be extended for an equal term. Covers spouse and children under 21 years of age.
- Visa for Aliens with Extraordinary Ability O1: This visa is issued to foreigners who have developed special skills and evidence of success in any branch of the sciences, arts, education, business, or sports. Only a person who has reached the top of their career can qualify for an O-1 visa. Said person has to prove that his career is recognized nationally or internationally and that he is a prominent and respected person in his field of activity. The O-1 visa is usually issued for a period of 3 years.
Should I start my own business or buy an existing one?
Official statistics show that about 80% of new businesses that are installed in the US fail within the first 5 years of operation. However, a going concern can be evaluated on the basis of its historical performance. The potential Buyer will be able to find out about the financial and accounting situation of the firm, the penetration and acceptance it has in the Market and the existence of operating permits granted by the different public bodies. It is usual for the Seller to assist the Buyer during the familiarization period so that the Buyer receives the necessary training to operate the business and also commits not to compete with him during a determined period and geographic area. Similarly, the Seller often provides the Buyer with direct financing on a portion of the price.
If I buy a running business, what are the essential aspects to consider?
The Buyer must evaluate its own financial capacity to invest and the time it will have to dedicate to the business. Likewise, it must evaluate the cash generation capacity of the business to cover costs and expenses and generate a surplus that allows it to regularly cover its living expenses and amortize the Seller's credit. Another important aspect that the Buyer must consider is the identification of operational processes that can be improved, and improve them once he is in possession of the business.
Is confidentiality important to the seller and the buyer?
Confidentiality is especially important for the seller because any infidence in relation to the sale could alert competitors to take advantage of the situation; employees may become distraught and quit and customers may move to the competition. The buyer, for his part, if he violates the confidentiality of the agreement signed with the seller, could be sued by the affected party.
How is the offer price of a business determined?
In general, the Business Broker evaluates the financial statements of the company for sale and makes recommendations to the Seller regarding the price at which the business should go to market. In some cases, the Seller orders a professional appraisal of the business to obtain figures that best approximate the fair market price. In other cases, the structuring of the operation is more important than the financial condition of the company at the time of determining the offer price; In general, the more the Seller's financing, the higher the sale price.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Yes, the lawyer is necessary to review, draft and process the legal documents relevant to the closing of the sale transaction. It is important that the lawyer has experience in mergers and acquisitions. The fees caused by these procedures are, in general, shared between the Buyer and the Seller. Hiring a good business attorney is vital for companies and individuals wishing to invest in the US. To achieve an adequate choice, the potential client must analyze the attorney's credentials and hold an exploratory interview with him before formalizing the client-attorney relationship. The Business Lawyer is responsible for managing the legal affairs of companies and investors. In the exercise of their usual functions, the business lawyer advises on the following matters:
- Companies Registry.
- Purchase-Sale of Properties and Businesses.
- Registration of Trademarks and Patents.
- Taxes and Financial Planning.
- Commercial Contracts.
- Labor Contracting.
- Judicial litigation.
Should I hire an accountant?
Yes, the certified public accountant (CPA) is necessary to review the accounts and determine their adequacy with the offer of sale made by the Seller. It is important that the CPA has experience in evaluating accounting processes in the area of small and medium businesses. The fees caused by these procedures are, in general, paid by the Buyer.
What is "Due Diligence"?
The literal translation into Spanish would be “due diligence”. This is the process by which the potential Buyer reviews the core aspects of the business that he intends to acquire. For the success of this stage, it is necessary to have the Seller's willingness to show his accounting books and files so that the CPA can carry out his management smoothly. The Seller's decision to buy or not will depend on the management of the information provided by the Seller and by third parties. The "due diligence” must consider qualitative aspects such as the information contained in the financial statements and qualitative aspects such as the evaluation of the control systems, the quality of the personnel, the validity of the operating licenses and the lease contract, among others.
During the "Due Diligence", what are the warning signs that the buyer must attend to?
That the Seller has imposed a term to close the operation that does not meet the analysis needs of the Buyer; that the Seller has withheld relevant information; has limited access to information; you have hidden the real reasons why you are selling the business; present distorted or false information; show little interest in cooperating in Buyer training. If any of these elements arise, the Buyer must understand that the acquisition risk has increased, so it will be at the appropriate time to deepen the analysis or withdraw from the operation.
How much cash do I need to acquire a going business?
Frequently a portion of the price is financed directly by the Seller by accepting a promissory note ("Promissory Note”) with the guarantee of the business itself. This financing evidences the confidence that the Seller has in the strength of its business. Likewise, the business can be financed by going to various financial institutions specialized in granting loans to small and medium-sized companies. The availability of these credits will depend on the size of the company's assets, its historical evolution, available collateral guarantees and the volume of projected cash flow. An excellent financial alternative is the "Small Business Administration" (SBA), which is a government institution responsible for granting guarantees to qualified companies. These credits are restricted to businesses owned by US residents or citizens. On average, a cash investment in the range of 30% to 50% of the purchase price could be enough to complete the transaction.