Who Qualifies for an L-1 Visa?
If you are expanding your business to the U.S. or being transferred to an existing American business, the L-1 visa is most likely the best type of U.S. work visa for you. L-1 visas are available to employees working for companies outside the United States such as in Canada that have branches, subsidiaries, affiliates or joint venture partners in the United States.
In order to qualify for an L-1 visa, you have to meet specific requirements.
Basic Requirements for the L-1 Visa
- You must have worked outside the United States for one full year within the preceding three years on a full time basis
- You must have worked for a "qualifying organization" outside the United States as an executive, manager or in a "specialized knowledge"
- You are being transferred to the United States to work for a new or existing U.S. business that is either subsidiary, branch or affiliate of the foreign company.
Does your Business Qualify for an L-1 Visa?
Each type of business relationship is precisely defined by U.S. Immigration Regulations and legal advice is required to determine whether the business relationship complies with this legal definition. It is important to note that the foreign business outside the U.S. must continue to operate during the L-1 transfer to the United States. This means that while the foreign worker is in the United States on the L-1 visa, the business outside the United States must be ongoing. Depending on the nature of the business, there are a number of ways this can happen, including retaining employees, business transactions, or paying taxes.
Does your business have to be large to qualify? No, any size business can qualify for an L-1 visa.
What Documents Do You Need for an L-1 Visa?
It is important that L-1 visa applicants have all the necessary documents before applying to risk refusal. Generally, there are a long list of documents that are required, including:
- information about the existing Canadian company
- your employment in Canada
- business plans for the U.S.
- U.S. company documents
- U.S. Immigration forms, such as the I-129
The Advantage of L-1 Visas for Canadians
Canadians can apply for L-1 work visas and take advantage of NAFTA by applying for L-1 visas at a U.S./Canadian port of entry rather than having to apply at a U.S. immigration office (called a Service Center in the U.S.) This means that a Canadian can take all of his or her documentation to a U.S. border and receive an L-1 visa on the spot!
How Long is the L-1 Visa Valid For?
There are two types of L-1 visas: L-1A visas are for managers or executives, and L-1B visas are for specialized knowledge workers.
The L-1A visas are valid for a total period of seven years from the date of issuance, while L-1B visas are valid for a total period of five years. Both visas may be extended if one resides in and commutes from Canada or Mexico to the United States for employment.
How an L-1 Visa Can Lead to a Green Card
If you have an L-1A visa as an executive or manager, you may qualify for an employment-based Green Card. In addition, you also can apply for a Green Card without having to undergo the rigorous process of Labor Certification which involves proving that there are no U.S. workers who can fill the position offered by the U.S. employer.
The L-1 to Green Card process can be complicated. The L-1 business has to meet certain criteria in order for the applicant to apply for a Green Card. If you have worked in the U.S. on an L-1 visa and wish to apply for a Green Card, contact us for a consultation to discuss your eligibility.
Why Seeking Professional Help for Visitor Visa is Important
There are complicated requirements for qualifying for an L-1 Visa. For instance, the terms "manager", "executive" and "specialized knowledge worker" have a very specific legal definition. It is therefore important that you consult with an immigration lawyer to determine if you qualify. Additionally, legal advice is required to determine whether a business relationship complies with a specific legal definition to qualify for an L-1 visa. Finally, you should always consult with an immigration lawyer for advice about what specific documents you need for your L-1 visa.
Why Hire Us to Help You With Your L-1 Visa Application?
Learning if you qualify is the first step towards success, and then you will need to ensure that all of the related documents are prepared properly. Our lawyers have extensive experience in handling L-1 visas for large, medium and even small businesses. We have helped thousands and thousands of employees and businesses successfully transfer or expand to the United States and we can help you too!
The first step towards obtaining an L-1 visa is getting an assessment of your case. Fill out our immigration assessment form and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your eligibility and options.
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