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The L-1 visa is for intracompany transferees and you can apply for one regardless of which country you’re living in.
This is different from investor-related visas. They’re treaty-based, so whether it’s for an E-1 Treaty Trader visa, or an E-2 Treaty Investor visa, you must be a national of one of the treaty countries (Western European countries, Canada, Australia and Mexico).
The U.S. has no annual quota of L-1 visas, and your spouse will be allowed to work without applying for a separate visa. He or she only needs to apply for a work authorization, and we can do that for you.
Three Types of Jobs
Under an L-1 visa, you can enter the U.S. as:
- A manager
- An executive
- A person with specialized knowledge
That may seem simple, but in practice, there are many possible traps. Each of these job types is defined a certain way. So consult an immigration lawyer before you jump into it.
Your Status with the Company
For one year out of the past three, you must have worked for a branch, a subsidiary or an affiliate of the parent company. An affiliate company and the parent company can both have the same owner, if that person or entity has a majority interest in each one. Also, the company doesn’t have to be a corporation.
If you’re opening a new branch in the U.S., the government will want you to prove what you’re planning to do. There’s a list of documents which we can provide for you, and it contains such items as proof of your premises (a lease, or purchase document), proof of ownership of your phones and office equipment and the like. Just having enough money in the bank to acquire these things doesn’t constitute adequate proof of your intent.
Entering on a B-1 Visa
You can initially enter the U.S. with a Business visa, and while you’re here apply for a Change of Status. If you’re setting up a business, you usually need to be in the U.S., rather than trying to do it from another country. But a B-1 visa doesn’t allow you to work in the U.S.
As experienced immigration attorneys, we can help you switch from your B-1 visa to an L-1 visa using the government’s Premium Processing Service. This allows you to get your reply in two weeks. We typically complete these cases in 10 business days. But if the government responds with a Request For Evidence (RFE), wanting more proof of something or more information, this will slow things down.
To prevent this RFE response, when we submit your L-1 application we’ll include a Memorandum of Law. This is a legal brief in which we explain details of the company and your work with it, and includes code sections and relevant cases. This answers the government’s questions before they’re asked.
L-1 Visa Timeframes
If you’re coming into the U.S. as a Person with Specialized Knowledge, you’ll be able to remain here for only five years. If you’re entering as a Manager or Executive, you’ll have seven years. Typically you’ll be granted a one-year visa to begin with, and then will have to apply for renewal. We can help you with all that paperwork.
Green Card Applications
When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (that is, the Immigration Department,) sees that you have an interest in the company, they’ll want to know if you’re intending to live here permanently. You’ll have to prove that the need for you to be here is temporary, and the assistance of experienced immigration attorneys will be invaluable here.
However, you will be able to apply for a Green Card, and can even remain here while you wait for it. As a manager or executive of an international company, you’d be in the highest category for a Green Card (known as EP-1 or EB-1). That means your wait for the Green Card will be shorter than it is for a Labor Certification Green Card (the usual work-related one).
Blanket L-1 Visas
There are two main requirements if you want to bring in a large number of people to work in the U.S.
- The company must have been in business for a year or more, with at least three branches, affiliates, or subsidiaries
- The company must:
- Have had at least ten L-1 visas approved within the last year;
- Have at least $1,000,000 sales in the U.S; or
- Have more than 1,000 U.S. workers