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Nonprofit Law/Can Foreigners Register a Non Profit?


My partner and I, who are both British, would like to start a non-profit in the US, producing, marketing and selling products and giving 100% of profits as grants to various charities.

Would this be possible or do you need to be a US citizen to do this?

Would it be likely that we would be granted business visas (or any other visa) to get the charity up and running?

If not, are there any other options for us? Would it, for example, be easier for us to start the charity in the UK and then bring it over to the US once it is deemed successful? We do plan on moving it over to the UK but feel, due to the message we are trying to send out, that it would initially do better in the US.

Thanks for any advice you may be able to offer us.

Section 502 of the Internal Revenue Code reads, in relevant part,
"An organization operated for the primary purpose of carrying on a
trade or business for profit shall not be exempt from taxation
under section 501 on the ground that all of its profits are payable
to one or more organizations exempt from taxation under section

I have in my profile that this free forum is only for general questions relating to IRS federal exemption issues of 501(c)(3) organizations. But, if you want to consult with me about U.S. Immigration, I would be willing to work on your matter, but I would need to spend a substantial amount of time and that would be beyond the scope of my offer of free services.  If you want to inquire about hiring me for such work, please contact me directly to the email address below.

Harvey Mechanic, Attorney at Law -

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.  

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Harvey Mechanic


I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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