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I want to expand my Business to the US. Can an L1 Visa help?

Using an L1 Visa to conduct business in the US

Question. I have a business in Canada and I wish to expand to the US. How can I achieve this?

Answer. For Canadians wishing to expand their businesses to the US, they may qualify for an L1 Visa.

About the L1 Visa

An L-1 Visa is a US Work Visa that allows Canadians to get authorization to work in a US based business that is a branch, affiliate or subsidiary of their Canadian business. In order to qualify for an L1 Visa, the Canadian must have worked in their Canadian business for at least one year within the last 3 years proceeding the application and they have to have worked either as an executive, manager and a person of specialized knowledge in that business.  Finally, there has to be a “qualifying relationship” between the Canadian business and the new or existing US Business. This means that there has to be some sort of corporate connection between the two businesses such as common ownership.

If these conditions are met, application forms have to be completed along with supporting documentation that provides the necessary information concerning the Canadian and US companies. Under NAFTA, Canadians can apply for their L1 Visas at the US Canada Port of Entry and obtain their visas on the spot.

Applying for an L1 Visa

The key to  making a successful L1 Visa application is to ensure that your documentation is properly prepared from both the US and the Canadian side. L1 Visas are valid up to 3 years at a time to a maximum of 7 years. If you are starting a new US Business, you will be issued only a one year visa for the first year under the “Start Up L1” provisions. The L1 Visa is also transferable to US Green Cards for those interested in something more permanent.

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About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

4 thoughts on “I want to expand my Business to the US. Can an L1 Visa help?

  1. Jade

    Hi, I run two “food trucks” in Canada, but the Canadian weather forces me to close down for the winter months. I was looking into participating in state fairs around the US. What sort of visa would I need to do so?

    1. Michael Niren

      You may be eligible for an E-2 Visa whereby you would actively manage your business. E-2 Visas can be issued for up to 5 years and are renewable. for more information go to our site or email us at [email protected]

  2. Michael Niren

    Hello Angela
    It appears that you can consider applying for an L-1 Visa. However, to know for sure, you should consult with a lawyer to discuss your case in more detail.

  3. angela

    My company in China is like a sole trade. However, hired about 50 staff members and I have been in trade for more than 5 years.Can I qulify for the L-1 visa if I want to expand my business in America?


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