Are you considering moving your nonprofit corporation to the United States or opening a branch here? If so, we're excited to have you. Nonprofit businesses support the community throughout the world, helping people and animals get what they need and taking care of the environment. Though there are a couple of things you'll have to do to expand (or simply move here), they aren't particularly difficult. In this article, we'll take a look at the forms, fees, and legalities of moving your foreign nonprofit to the United States. Let's get started.
Is This Legal?
Unless there is a legal issue with it in your country of origin, the United States gladly accepts foreign nonprofit organizations through their borders. When everyone is legally allowed to work within the United States or you're hiring locally, all you need to do is fill out a form with your chosen state's tax office and file the registration fee. This ranges from $15 to around $75 depending on which state you want to settle in.
Additionally, nonprofits under investigation are typically denied access to the United States. The country doesn't want to muddy the legal waters any further and will wait until the situation is under the nonprofit's control before allowing entry in most cases.
Are There Any Restrictions?
There are very, very few. As mentioned above, any sort of legal action occurring in an origin country may delay the response or cause the United States to deny access. However, most nonprofits embroiled in a legal battle aren't looking to continue expanding.
If the nonprofit's business model is illegal in the United States at a federal level, they may also be denied. A good for instance is that of medical marijuana. Though at the time of this writing, marijuana is still illegal at a national level, it may be legal in the nonprofit's country of origin. Perhaps their goals are to connect those in countries with no national health plan with medical marijuana to assist them with pain or chemotherapy-related issues.
Since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, it is likely that this nonprofit would be denied. This is but one example of a small but significant challenge that a foreign nonprofit may face.
What Kind of Nonprofits Can Apply?
All foreign nonprofits that fall within the legal practices of the United States may apply to any state they deem viable. However, nonprofits should carefully examine laws in those states for anything that may alter their plans, change the way they must conduct business, or otherwise change their programs.
Again, remember that the United States also has federal laws to deal with as well as state laws. What may be fine in Wyoming may be a completely different situation in Maryland. Do your research before applying to save yourself fees and time spent talking to the various offices in the state that you've chosen for your nonprofit to settle down within.
Common Foreign Nonprofits in the United States
Perhaps one of the most well-known nonprofits in the United States is Doctors Without Borders. Originally a French nonprofit, Doctors Without Borders has crossed international borders time and time again, helping war-torn nations and those struck down with illness. The organization currently has offices in much of the modern world, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Needless to say, they are incredibly experienced with international nonprofit structure necessities.
The World Wildlife Fund is another wonderful example of an international nonprofit that has found its way to United States soil (and has been established here for quite some time). Assisting with animal welfare throughout the world, the company has had a tax exemption status essentially since they set up their office here in the United States. And while that may be difficult to attain for some groups, true nonprofits will find it a breeze.
The Reversal Card: Registering Your Nonprofit in Foreign Countries
Perhaps you've found yourself at this article looking for the reverse of it: you're a United States nonprofit corporation looking to expand to the international market. While difficult, you will find little push-back if you have a 501c3 status (or other group-specific tax exemption) and your business is legal in the country you are applying to. If it is a national ally country, the chances are even greater that you will be glanced at, stamped, accepted, and on your way to building a better tomorrow.