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Opening a Branch Office in the U.S? The L-1 visa Process

Now that you have successfully established your business in your home country, you realize setting up a branch, a subsidiary or a representative office in the United States, is the next smart move for your company. However, perhaps even before spending any time doing feasibility and economic studies to see if this is the right move, you should see if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will allow you to make such a move. To do that, you will need to go through an arduous and difficult visa approval process.

While it’s best that you retain the services of an immigration attorney prior to submitting your application for an L-1 intracompany transfer work visa, Shawn Sedaghat, an immigration attorney in Los Angeles, explains how the process of getting a visa of this kind typically unfolds.

There are two parts to this process, Sedaghat says. First, the company that you work for will have to fill out a separate petition with the USCIS, and prove or overcome a number of requirements. These requirements are highly detailed and must meet certain tests, or the case will be denied.

The requirements are easily overlooked by someone who does not practice immigration law, Sedaghat says. While essentially you are trying to prove that you have been working for a non-American company, and are now going to work in their American office, it will take more than just a pay-stub to meet the government’s expectations. In addition, you may be asked to prove that you have the education background and the experience to fill the job expected of you. For instance, if you have just graduated with your bachelor’s degree in biology and have no prior work experience, but are said to become an executive manager for a computer company opening an office in California, a lot of red flags are going to be raised as to what your true intention area, since on paper, you do not qualify for such a position.

The good news is, says Sedaghat, if you are moving to America on an L-1 visa, it is also possible to have your family relocate with you upon being issued L-2 visas for themselves. Getting your family their own visas can be handled on the same petition which you are submitting for your transfer.

If done properly, the process shouldn’t take too long, he adds. But, it’s important that you are adequately prepared and that both you and your employer provide the government with everything needed so that you can be approved and begin your new successful venture in America.

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