L-1 Business Immigration: What are the Basic Requirements?

Whatever your reasons may be for considering a move to the U.S.A, your business may prove to be your ticket to make that idea a reality. This opportunity comes to you in the form of an L visa, of which there are two types. The first type, the L-1A visa, is for "Managers" and "Executives" of businesses, and second, the L-1B visa is available to those persons who have "Specialized Knowledge" regarding the business that is essential to its success in the U.S.A. So how does one qualify for this golden ticket and just what are the benefits of this visa? Although by no means comprehensive, let us consider each question in turn:

1) How do I qualify for an L-1A or L-1B Intra-Company Transfer Visa? Below are a few of the major requirements of this visa:

• If you are the owner of a foreign business, the business must have been operational for at least one year prior to applying for the visa. This will need to be supported by evidentiary documentation such as taxes.

• If you are an employee of the company, and wish to petition as an executive, manager, or person with specialized knowledge of the company, being sent to the U.S. to open the branch or subsidiary, then you must evidence that you have worked for the company for at least one out of the last three years.

• Throughout your stay in the U.S. on the L visa, the foreign business, which is the principal business used to create the U.S. branch or subsidiary company, must remain in operation.

• Majority ownership in both the foreign and U.S. Company must be shown to be in the hands of one person, otherwise if less than majority ownership is shown, control over the business can be used to satisfy the qualifying relationship between the two businesses.

• You must qualify as a "Manager", "Executive", or have "Specialized Knowledge" regarding the foreign Company's product, services, techniques or the like. Each of these positions has a specific legal definition that needs to be satisfied.

• The nature and the size of the foreign business, and the newly founded U.S. branch or subsidiary is for the most part irrelevant in terms of the visas availability. Additionally, with the L visa there is no minimum amount of money that needs to be invested into the U.S. Company, although enough must be invested in order to show that the business is operational.

2) What are some of the benefits that this visa confers onto me?

• As an L-1A or L-1B visa holder you may bring your spouse and children under the age of 21 along with you to live in the U.S. as long as your L visa is valid. In addition, your spouse is free to accept any employment in the U.S.

• Under the L-1A visa you will be entitled to remain in the U.S. for a total of up to seven years, and under the L-1B visa up to a total of five years. Note that while you are maintaining your non-immigrant L visa status in the U.S., you may legally apply for permanent resident status. If you receive permanent residence status, then you are no longer bound by the strictures of the L visa, and are lawfully entitled to reside in the U.S. permanently, barring any disqualifying issues.

The L visa provides great opportunities for foreign business persons to work and live in the U.S.A., while expanding the horizons of their businesses.
Vaughan de Kirby
California Immigration Attorney

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