Could an L-1 Visa work for you?
In order to be considered eligible for an L-1 Visa you need to be able to check most of the affirmations below:
- You have what is considered “specialized knowledge” about the activity of your company, or you are a manager or an executive in a foreign business entity.
- In the past three years you have worked abroad for at least 12 consecutive months.
- The company where you are employed abroad is related to the U.S. business you want to establish.
- The foreign entity where you are employed will continue to do business.
- Your purpose of arriving into U.S. is to open a new office location for your company that will be active and operational shortly after you will come in the United States as an L-1.
Understanding L-1 Requirements
In order to apply for an L-1 Visa you need to fulfill a list of requirements detailed below along with some forms of evidence that must be submitted to meet the requirements.
Requirement 1 – There must be a qualifying relationship between the petitioning U.S. entity and your entity abroad.
This means that there must be a corporate relationship between your new U.S. office and the foreign entity abroad, that the new office must be a branch, affiliate, subsidiary or parent of the foreign entity and both share common control and ownership.
How do I demonstrate that my new business in the United States has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company?
In order to demonstrate that your new office has a qualifying corporate relationship with the foreign entity (e.g. your overseas employer) you can include as evidence:
- Articles of incorporation, business licenses or other documents proving that U.S. business and the foreign entity have common ownership
- Annual reports that describe the corporate structure
- Corporate filings in the U.S. or abroad, contracts or other documents describing the corporate relationship
- Stock purchase agreements, capitalization table, voting rights agreements and any other documents that can be used of evidence to demonstrate ownership and control over the U.S. and foreign entities.
How do I demonstrate that I have worked the required amount of time abroad?
Another requirement that you need to demonstrate is employment overseas of at least 12 consecutive months in the last 3 years. Some of the documents you can submit to prove this are evidence of your work product, tax return documents showing employment, payroll records or pay stubs.
How do I show that my overseas employment was in a qualifying capacity?
Besides having to demonstrate that you have worked overseas for 12 consecutive months, you also need to prove that your employment was in a specialized knowledge capacity, or having managerial and executive duties. Among the documents you can submit to prove this are performance reviews, organization charts that indicate your position in the company, organizational job descriptions used to detail your position in the company and your working relationship with positions above and below your job, a resume that describes your accomplishments, patents or any other type of evidence of technology, services / products the company has that have been based on your work.
Requirement 2 – Sufficient physical space must be secured for a new office.
Another requirement that you need to meet and prove is to have sufficient and appropriate physical space for your new office. How much space you need in order to be considered sufficient, depends on the nature of your business. No matter how much space you need, it has to be secured through lease, purchase or other means.
How do I prove that the new U.S. office has sufficient space to do business?
You can demonstrate that you have an office space and it has sufficient space for you to carry business by submitting evidence such as a signed lease agreement, a mortgage, or other proof that you have purchased a real estate, you can also use a business plan, marketing materials, or any other business documents that connect the activity of the business with the space you have acquired.
Requirement 3 – A new office must be active and operating within one year after the L-1’s admission to the United States if requesting an extension of stay.
The new office that you are registering for your U.S. office is meant to function for a “ramp up” period limited to one year. After one year you can submit for an extension of the L-1 visa if the new office meets the requirements which depend on the nature of your business and generally involve hiring additional employees, fulfilling contract orders, having a revenue stream, etc.
Requirement 4 – After 1 year the new office must support a managerial or executive position if you are requesting an extension of stay in the L-1A classification.
One of the conditions you need to fulfill in order to be able to extend your office after the one-year term is to have a business that is sufficiently active to support an executive or a manager. While during the first year, the manager or executive running the office might have to get involved in many hands-on activities that might go beyond his or her managerial tasks, after the first year passes, he or she will have to limit to their managerial tasks to obtain the extension.
How can you demonstrate that your office is functioning and able to support a manager or executive after the first year passes?
You can demonstrate that by submitting proofs such as bank statements, purchase orders, contracts, financial reports and any other evidence showing commercial activity, payroll records, position descriptions showing your business support employees and demonstrating the manager or executive is relieved of non-qualifying tasks, etc.