Expand Your Business to the U.S. with the L-1 Visa
If you are a foreign business owner seeking to expand your company to the world’s biggest economy, there is an entire visa classification designed specifically for this purpose: The L-1 Visa, which will allow you to transfer key personnel to the U.S. to open an office for your company.
Basic Into to the L-1 VisaThe L-1 Visa allows a company with an existing presence in the U.S. * such as a subsidiary, branch, affiliate, parent company, or joint partnership * to transfer certain personnel from their foreign offices. However, it can also be used by foreign companies without a presence in the country to transfer personnel from existing foreign locations to establish a new one in America. The U.S. enterprise can be a different entity regarding goods and services, giving you the opportunity to diversify your business or cater to a specific market.
Qualifying for the L-1 VisaYou cannot apply for the L-1 Visa for just any employee: the candidate must either be a manager or executive (L-1A Visa) or must have specialized knowledge or skills (L-1B Visa). The L-1 Visa guidelines are very specific on what constitutes these three categories: A manager is defined as having the ability to oversee the work of other staff; an executive must demonstrate a capacity to make important business decisions with broad discretion, and an employee with specialized knowledge must have proprietary information or skills pertinent to the success of the business. Moreover, the employee must be a foreign national and must have been employed at the foreign office for at least one year out of the previous three years.
You must also submit a detailed business plan showing how you plan to establish your business and why your employees will be needed. The more comprehensive and realistic the plan, the better your chances of approval. Our immigration attorneys can help review your business plan to ensure it meets the criteria for the L-1 Visa and increases your likelihood of getting approved.
The L-1 Visa Allows You to Bring Your Whole TeamSince establishing a new office can take a lot of work and expertise, the L-1 Visa gives you the option to apply for a blanket petition so that you can bring a whole team of qualified personnel. This is a great way to save time and money completing individual applications for each team member, though you must explain why each candidate is needed for the enterprise and how they will help launch the U.S. enterprise.
Duration of Stay Under the L-1 VisaLaunching a new office will certainly take time, even in an environment as business friendly as the U.S. Fortunately, the L-1 Visa takes this into account: it is generally granted for an initial duration of one to three years. Managers and executives under the L-1A Visa can extend their stay up to seven years, while employees with specialized knowledge under the L-1B Visa can get an extension of up to five years. Keep this in mind when planning the future of your business.