Clear Filters

Can you start an in-home preschool when you’re not a US citizen?

As you’ve probably seen by now in your research, the laws around starting your own in-home preschool or child care can get pretty complicated. The licensing process differs by state, as do zoning laws and protection for renters wanting to open family child care homes.

Immigration status is no exception. We’ve had some educators ask us if they can start their program without being US citizens.

The short answer is yes, as long as you pay your taxes. Here’s the longer answer:

Starting a small business without American citizenship

Firstly, you must have the legal right to work in the country. According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, you can work in the US if you have one of the following:

Structuring your US Business and paying taxes

We recommend our partners structure their in-home child care program as sole proprietorships instead of registering as an LLC. For US citizens, you don’t have to do or change anything to become a sole proprietor. Your social security number is all you need and you can use it to get an employer identification number or EIN if you will be hiring employees.

But what if you’re a non-US citizen and don’t qualify for a social security number?

You may have to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS.

For more in-depth information on taxes as a family child care provider, check out Tom Copeland’s blog, Taking Care of Business and this post on How to Start a Business in the U.S. as a Foreign National.

For more information on starting a sole proprietorship, see this 50-State Guide to Establishing a Sole Proprietorship.

Check with your state’s licensing application

Because licensing is state-dependent, a good way to anticipate what your state needs is to get your hands on an actual application and see what they ask for in terms of social security numbers or anything else. It’s possible that as a non-citizen, you might have to provide additional information than what citizens do.

From speaking to a handful of licensing offices, we’ve heard that most applications won’t ask anything about your immigration status as long as you have the ITIN that shows you are authorized to work in this country and can pay federal and state taxes.

Start your own family child care

Wonderschool has helped over 140 educators and child care providers start and grow their own programs. Learn more about starting your own child care or preschool here.


Michelle is a freelance writer and content marketing strategist, and content creator for Wonderschool. When she taught preschool in Thailand, her students' favorite word in English was "Octopus!"