What is L1 Visa and what are the benefits of getting L1 Visa? The L1 Visa can be an incredible option for entrepreneurs and other workers looking to go to the United States.
What is L1 Visa?
Basically, the L1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign company to transfer a certain worker to work for a related U.S Company.
For the L1 visa to be an option that’s available, there needs to essentially be two companies. There needs to be a company outside of the United States, and there needs to be a company in the United States. Those two companies need to have what’s called a qualifying relationship.
Examples of qualifying relationships are parent subsidiary. One company is the parent company, one company is the subsidiary company. The two companies can be affiliates of one another, or one company can be a branch office of the other company. Those are some examples of qualifying relationships.
Additionally, the way the L1 visa works is that the person that’s getting the L1 visa must have worked for the foreign company for one year, full time continuous employment within the last three years, prior to applying for the L1 visa,
The employment for the foreign company must have been either as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker. The employment that will take place with the U.S Company must be as either a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker.
If the person that’s getting the L1 visa is going to be working in the United States as a manager or executive, then the L1 is classified as L-1A. If the person is going to be working for the U.S Company as a specialized knowledge worker, then the L1 is classified as L-1B.
Although there has to be two companies, but what if the U.S Company is brand new? What if you literally just set up the U.S Company?
Well, then the company is considered by USCIS to be a new office. Basically, if the U.S Company has been operational for less than one year, then it is classified as a new office. It’s important to know whether or not the U.S Company is a new office because there are additional considerations to take into account.
For one, if the U.S Company is classified as a new office then the L1 will be valid for a period of one year as opposed to three years. For that reason alone, it’s very important to know whether the company in the United States is classified as a new office.
Similarly, there are certain additional requirements for new office petitions. For example, a new office, L1 needs to demonstrate that the U.S Company has sufficient physical premises, meaning that it has a physical location that it’s operating in, that’s sufficient for the company.
5 Benefits of the L1 Visa
- The L1 visa does not have a specific requirement to make a substantial investment in a U.S Company.
Entrepreneurs are interested in exploring the various visa options that are available to them to expand their business to the United States to work and operate in the United States. And so many investors and entrepreneurs are considering between the E2 visa and the L1 visa and other visa options.
One of the advantages of the L1 visa over the E2 visa is that the L1 visa is less focused on a substantial investment.
One of the primary focuses of the E2 visa is, did the investor make a substantial investment in the U.S enterprise?
The L1 visa doesn’t have a similar focus, it does not have a requirement that you make a substantial investment.
- It is not limited to certain countries.
There are certain visas that are limited to citizens of certain countries, e.g the E2 visa. The E2 visa is only available to citizens of certain countries. The L1 visa has no such limitation.
The L1 visa is generally available to citizens of all countries. For that reason, that is a major benefit of the L1 visa.
- It can allow somebody to stay in the United States for a considerable period of time.
If someone is in the United States on an L-1A visa, they could extend their visa up to a total of seven years. If someone is in the United States on an L-1B visa, they can extend their visa for a total period of up to five years.
Again, with the various extensions that are available, somebody on an L-1A can get a total of seven years in the United States and somebody on an L-1B can get a total of up to five years. That’s a considerable period of time.
- The L1 visa is a dual intent visa.
There are certain nonimmigrant visas that have a nonimmigrant intent requirement. For example, a student visa.
For somebody to get approved for a student visa they cannot have the intent to become a permanent resident in the United States and to get their green card. But that is not the case for the L1 visa.
The L1 visa is dual intent, meaning that somebody can be applying for an L1 visa and simultaneously have the intent to ultimately get their green card. If somebody has an immigrant petition pending, they basically are underway taking steps to get their green card or if they otherwise have plans to ultimately get their green card.
The fact that the L1 is a dual intent visa is a major benefit.
- It has a relatively convenient pathway to get a green card.
There is a green card option called EB-1C. EB-1C is for multinational managers and executives and the requirements for EB-1C are very similar to the requirements for L-1A.
Basically, EB-1C is an immigrant option available to somebody that is going to be working in the United States as either a manager or executive. Many of the requirements are the same.
There must be a qualifying relationship with a foreign company and a U.S Company.
The individual must have worked full time for the foreign company as either a manager or an executive continuously for one year within the last three years.
They must be transferring to the United States Company to work as either a manager or executive.
With the L-1B somebody could be going to the United States to work as a specialized knowledge worker. But for EB-1C the person must be going to the United States to either work as a manager or executive.
For L1 there is a green card option called EB-1C and the requirements are quite similar to the requirements for L1.
A very common thing that we see in our practice is that somebody will come to the United States on an L1 and eventually upgrade to EB-1C to get their green card.
Assuming that the requirements are satisfied for EB-1C, this can be a relatively straightforward pathway for somebody to get their green card.
There’s five benefits of getting your L1 Visa.
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Source: Ashoori Law
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