What Are the Requirements for the L-1 Visa?
As a business immigration attorney since 1997, I frequently get approached by foreign entrepreneurs asking how they can stay in the USA and set up their office in Ontario, Corona or other cities in the Inland Empire. Unfortunately, US immigration regulations allow for only a small number of visa categories which entrepreneurs can utilize. Of these, the L-1 visa should be one to consider.
The following requirements apply to all petitions filed for L classification:
There must be a qualifying relationship between the business entity in the United States and the foreign operation that employs the alien abroad.
For the duration of the alien's stay in the United States as an intracompany transferee, the petitioner must continue to do business both in the United States and in at least one other country, either directly or through a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.
The alien must have been employed abroad continuously by the foreign operation for the immediate prior year. Although authorized periods of stay in the United States for the foreign employer are not interruptive of the immediate prior year of employment, such periods may not be counted towards the qualifying year of employment abroad.
The alien's prior year of employment abroad must have been in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity. The prospective employment in the United States must also be in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity. However, the alien does not have to be transferred to the United States in the same capacity in which he or she was employed abroad. For example, a manager abroad could be transferred to the United States in a specialized knowledge capacity or vice versa.
The petitioner and the alien must have the intent for the alien to come to the United States for a temporary period and return abroad at the end of the authorized stay, unless the alien becomes a permanent resident of the United States during the authorized stay. The L classification may not be used for the principal purpose of circumventing the wait for a preference visa number.
Each of these points can be a potential pitfall for an L-1 petitioner seeking to transfer an L-1A executive or manager. Therefore, consultation with an experienced immigration attorney is essential to determine a company's likelihood of success before extensive resources are invested. If you are interested in applying for an L-1 visa for an executive, manager or specialized knowledge worker. Please call my office to set up in in-office consultation in Rancho Cucamonga.