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.
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.
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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