The L-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign company transfer workers that are in managerial or executive position or have specialized knowledge in the foreign company to be able to work in a branch office located in the United States.
This allows small foreign companies to be able to provide their services in the United States.
The L-1 Visa was initially designed for large multinational companies to transfer workers to U.S., however, it allows small or start-up companies abroad to expand their business and services to the U.S. It also allows existing companies anywhere in the world (other than Iran and North Korea) to have a Subsidiary, or “Sister” Company in the U.S., which have a history of existence, pays taxes, and have employees.
The Pros of the L-1 Visa
- It allows for many L-1 Visa holders to eventually apply for Green Card;
- Although full-time work is required, the individual does not need to spend all their time in the U.S. and have flexibility to work in both the U.S. and the foreign branch;
- The L-1 Visa works well for Executives, Owners, and High Level Managers of existing companies and allows for eventual Green Card for worker, spouse, and children under the age of 21;
- A larger company can readily obtain L-1 Visas for their employees to freely travel, once the first L-1 Visa is established;
- No minimum investment amount is required, the Business Plan has to make sense, and the investment amount is very much dependent on the type of business;
- If the it is set up properly, it can potentially provide visas and possibly Green Cards for multiple executive and managerial people, their spouses, and children then the age of 21;
- No country restrictions (except Iran and North Korea);
The Cons of the L-1 Visa
- The individual must have an already established and running business for at least a couple of years;
- Foreign businesses must be audited, have all tax returns (if applicable) or tax audits done properly, and must be able to demonstrate legitimate employees on payroll;
- The individual CANNOT abandon the business in the foreign country; this is meant to run simultaneously with the “Sister” company, so the individual must have the resources to run both businesses simultaneously;
- In general, the Company in USA must have very similar ownership structure as with the foreign company; sometimes challenging with UAE business structures;
In order to obtain an L-1 Visa, the Employer of the foreign branch needs to submit the required forms, pay the required fees, and submit supporting documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
USCIS will review the documents, and advise if further documentation is required. Upon approval of the petition with USCIS, the individual traveling to the United States will be able to submit the required application to their respective U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Upon submission of the application, the individual is able to schedule an interview with the U.S.
Embassy or Consulate, in which the individual will need to provide the Immigration Officer with the requested documents at the time of the interview.
The Immigration Officer will be able to advise if the application has been approved, denied, in need of further documentation, or subject to administrative processing for further security clearance.