How the L-1 Visa Opens Doors to the United States
If you are a foreign business owner seeking to establish a presence in the United States, the L-1 Visa is an excellent option to consider. This nonimmigrant visa allows foreign companies to send an employee to work in an existing U.S.
L-1 Visa RequirementsThe L-1 Visa must always be applied for by a U.S. business entity, even when in the case of a foreign company is opening a new office in the country (at which point a U.S. entity would need to be create for that purpose).
Establishing a New OfficeAs noted earlier, for foreign companies with no existing qualifying presence in the U.S., you can create a U.S. entity prior to applying for an L-1A Visa. Among other things, the application must include evidence of a physical office space for the new entity (such as a lease agreement) and a detailed business plan demonstrating that the newly established entity will be profitable enough to support the employee being transferred to help run it. Obtaining an L-1 Visa for a new office can be challenging, since it is initially issued for only one year, meaning you will have a limited timeframe to demonstrate the significant growth and personnel expansion usually required for an extension.
Bringing FamilyThe L-1 Visa will usually be granted for an initial period of three years, followed by extensions for two year increments. The L-1A Visa can be extended for up to seven years, while the L-1B Visa has a maximum duration of five years. However, as preciously noted, if the employee is an executive or manager being transferred to launch a new office, the initial period will be only one year, with an extension being contingent on achieving significant and measurable growth before that time.
CostsAll visas must be filed with and processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and upon receipt of the approval notice, you must obtain a visa in your own country. There is also a $325 filing fee, not including additional fees and costs for expedited processing, fraud prevention, and any needed translations.