Funding Your Business as an Immigrant – Understanding Your Options
If you are a U.S. immigrant entrepreneur, it may seem like an uphill battle trying to secure funding for your business. Whether you are starting a new tech startup, opening a retail shop, or buying into a franchise business, there are many different funding options available to immigrants just like you!
SBA Loans For Immigrants
The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers a wide variety of loan programs offered by banks throughout the United States, and it also offers loans for immigrants.
SBA loans are issued by individual banks, but these loans are backed by the SBA, which means that they usually have lower interest rates than traditional business loans. The SBA can also help match immigrants with the resources, assistance, and lenders that they need. Your immigration status does have some effects on your eligibility, however.
- Naturalized citizens – Naturalized citizens are fully able to get SBA loans, but will need to note their status on SBA Form 1919.
- Lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) – If you are an LPR, you can get a small business loan. Because the process of obtaining a Green Card can be very time-consuming, immigrants can apply for SBA loans with a valid immigrant visa and customs stamp proving lawful residence.
- Non-U.S. Residents – Immigrants who are not citizens can also get loans from the SBA, but must be lawfully within the US and must have an “appropriate work visa” to qualify.
- Refugees and asylees – All asylees and refugees with LPR status are fully qualified and eligible for SBA loans.
The SBA will closely inspect your paperwork and documentation throughout the loan process, but SBA loans typically offer the most flexibility and lowest terms and should be your first option when comparing other types of bank loans.
Business Grants For Immigrants
Business grants for immigrants are usually offered through state governments or nonprofit/charitable organizations. A grant can be very helpful because, unlike a loan, you do not have to repay the debt. Here are a few federal programs that may be applicable to your business:
- Microenterprise Development Program for Refugees– This program is meant to assist immigrants in starting or expanding businesses, and offers training in how to operate a business, as well as microloans of up to $15,000.
- Wilson-Fish Alternative Program for Refugees – Provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, this program provides refugees with cash, job training, English language learning services, and job development assistance.
- Rural Business Development Grants – The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provides business development grants for business owners in rural areas. Businesses with less than 50 employees and less than $1 million in revenue may qualify for training, working capital, and other resources.
We also highly recommend doing some searches for local and state programs in Florida, as these may offer additional opportunities for business funding as an immigrant.
Contact Bennett Law Center And Get The Help You Need In Florida!
Starting a business is difficult, especially when you are a U.S. immigrant. At Bennett Law Center, we work with aspiring entrepreneurs just like you and help them achieve their own version of the American Dream. Contact us online to schedule a consultation and get the help you need.