To survive and thrive in an increasingly globalized economy, businesses must go abroad for new and exciting opportunities. With the world’s largest and most dynamic economy, the United States is the premier choice for businesses of all shapes and sizes to establish their foothold.
Fortunately, the L1 Visa exists precisely for this reason, allowing foreign businesses to send their most qualified personnel to America to help open or grow an office. The opportunities unlocked by the L1 Visa are precisely why Jurado & Associates, P.A. specializes in helping clients worldwide increase their chance of approval—and fulfill their American Dream.
The L1 Visa: An Introduction
The L1 “Intracompany Transferee” Visa, to use its formal name, permits foreign businesses to transfer certain eligible employees from existing offices overseas to the U.S. for the purpose of establishing a new office or expanding a current one.
Despite serving a very specific purpose, the L1 Visa has several advantages over other nonimmigrant business visas: It is open to all nationalities (unlike the E2 Visa) and does not require completing the arduous PERM Process (unlike the H-1B). It is accessible to businesses of all sizes, from startups to long-established multinational companies.
Nevertheless, like any U.S. visa, there are several requirements that must be met to qualify, which is why you are strongly advised to consult with an expert Immigration Attorney.
Breaking Down the L-1 Visa Requirements
First, the U.S. office must have some sort of relationship with the foreign office—e.g., as an affiliate, joint venture, branch, or subsidiary. Virtually every type of arrangement is acceptable so longer as the U.S. entity can be tied to its foreign counterpart.
However, the U.S. office can conduct totally different business from the existing company, allowing the foreign company to diversify its operations or cater to the specific U.S. market.
Second, the L1 Visa petition mut be filed on behalf of the employee being transferred to U.S. company. However, it cannot be just any employee: The candidate must either have been a manager or executive at the foreign firm (L1A subcategory) or have specialized knowledge or skills (L1B subcategory). Each classification has its requirements and criteria to qualify.
L1A Visa regulations define a manager as having the ability to oversee other personal, while an executive must exercise broad discretion in making important business decisions.
For the purposes of the L1B Visa, an employee with specialized knowledge is one with proprietary information or skills pertinent to the operations of the business.
For both subcategories, the candidate must be a foreign national and must have been employed at the foreign office for at least one continuous year out of the prior three years. In other words, you cannot hire someone solely for the purpose of opening the U.S. firm.
In addition to these qualifications, the petitioning firm must provide specific details about what the L1 Visa holder will be doing to assist the establishment of the new U.S. office. This can generally be accomplished through a detailed business plan, an organizational chart demonstrating their managerial or executive functions (if applicable), and a detailed breakdown of their day-to-day duties.
The petitioning foreign company must also prove it has the funds necessary to transfer the L1 employee and to open or expand the U.S. office. This will include documents such as prior paystubs, financial statements, and account information.
Likewise, the new U.S. entity cannot be hypothetical: The petitioner must have taken tangible steps to establish it, such as incorporating or registering the business with the applicable state jurisdiction and securing a physical (proven through an executed lease, real estate contract, or deed).
The Duration of the L1 Visa
The L1 Visa is usually granted for up to three years, particularly for petitioners seeking to establish a new office. The maximum allowable duration varies by subcategory: Managers and executives can extend their stay to up to seven years, while workers with specialized knowledge and skills can get an extension of up to five years. It is crucial to keep these time periods in mind when drawing up your business plan, especially as you must justify why each extension is required.
Partner with the L1 Visa Experts at Jurado & Associates, P.A.
The L1 Visa offers invaluable to the world’s largest economy, allowing foreign businesses to handpick the employees best suited to expanding their American operations. That is why our Immigration Attorneys are dedicated to helping business owners from around the world qualify for the L1 Visa.
From consultation to completion, we will be with you every step of the process to explore your options and better your chances of success. With expertise in business law and firsthand experience as entrepreneurs, are well-rounded team is uniquely suited to