L-1 visas are specifically for managers, executives, and high-level organizational personnel of companies and corporations and can offer certain business advantages to those interested in growing their organizations in the United States labor market. L-1A visas also hold potential value to foreign investors as in certain situations, the L-1A visa could be used as an alternative to EB-5 Visa.
The L visa classification is divided into L-1 and L-2 visas. There are two types of L-1 visas, an L-1A visa and L-1B visa that can be used to start and expand businesses and business-related interests in the United States.
L-1A Visa Requirements
L-1A visas are available to managers and executives who may be interested in staying in the United States for a maximum of 7 years or may wish to pursue permanent residence (employment-based Green Card), status. L-1A visas are granted for 2 years at a time, up to 7 years. L-1A status is a subset of the EB-1 visa category, which offers prioritized standing to applicants based on their exceptionally desirable knowledge and position in a specialized field.
There is no Labor Certification needed to pursue and L-1A visa, and neither are there any academic credentials needed for a successful application. Rather than a complete academic CV, an L-1A visa applicant must demonstrate that she or he has served in a substantial role with an overseas organization or company for at least 12 consecutive months in the 3 years preceding date of L-1A visa application. It is also important to note that length of stay can be extended for individuals maintaining L-1A status as long as they satisfy Requirements for An L-1 Visa Extension.
L-1B Visa Requirements
L-1B visas are specifically for those who hold specialized knowledge pertaining to a business interest or company to aid in its development and strategic planning. Those applying using an L-1B visa and who are approved can plan to stay in the United States for a maximum of 5 years with no immediate options to apply for permanent residency. L-1A visas are granted for 2 years at a time, up to 5 years. A Labor Certification is required in the case of an L-1B visa. At the end of a 5 year stay on an L-1B visa, it is possible to re-apply for an L-1 visa, using the L-1A form.
Growing Your Business Through an L-1 Visa
When pursuing growth opportunities for your international or multinational business operation, especially in the case of small, startup business plans, the decision to pursue either an L-1A or L-1B visa should be discussed with a legal professional. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service office (USCIS) has developed a reputation for rejecting L-1A applications for smaller operations, which can be financially damaging due to the recent increase in fees for H-1b and L-1 visas, To increase chances for a successful application, it is helpful to officially incorporate a U.S. entity or expansion prior to registering a L-1 visa application and to submit an error-free application..
When filing for an L-1 visa make sure you are prepared to present the following information to USCIS or at the U.S. Consulate office:
- Non Immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-156)
- Recent passport photograph and valid passport, expiring at least 6 months past expiration date of L1 visa
- L1 Approval Notice (Form I-797)
- Copy of L1 Petition (Form I-129) filed with USCIS
- Documents proving corporate relationship applicant companies or organizations
- Documents proving beneficiary’s eligibility
- Other documents that support applicants case as needed
- Documents requested by Consulate as needed
Business Starts and Expansions
Using an L-1A or L-1B visa allows for expansion of applicants’ business interests in the United States. However, applicants should not plan to start her or his own startup business in addition to the business interests listed on the L-1 visa application.
It is, in fact, illegal for all L-1 visa applicants to start their own businesses in the United States or to begin work for an employer other than the one listed on the L-1 application at time of approval and entry into the United States. Furthermore, successful L-1 visa applicants are not legally allowed to work for any other company or entity other than the one listed on the L-1 application at time of approval and entry into the United States.
The L-1 visa is an excellent option for those starting or expanding foreign companies in the United States with opportunities to move key personnel and management. The L-1A option allows business expansions to move key personnel into the country via intra-company transfer, with options to faster securement of a Green Card (under EB-1(c) application).
Contact KPPB Law For More Information
For more information about legal services related to starting and expanding your U.S. business through an L-1 visa application, please contact us KPPB Law by sending a message online or by calling us for a private consultation. KPPB Law can assist and advise you in putting together a successful L-1 visa application strategy and portfolio, identifying the paperwork and supporting documents required and of interest to USCIS.