Colombo & Hurd’s L-1 Visa Attorneys represent corporations throughout the United States with the L-1 Visa process. Absent a valid visa or other authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), no foreign national has the right to be physically present or work in the U.S. Non-immigrant (temporary) visas are permissions authorizing entry to the U.S. for a specific purpose for a definite time period. Depending how the foreign employer company is structured or chooses to structure its U.S. company, certain of its employees may qualify for an L-1 Intracompany Transferee visa.
The L1 visa is a convenient vehicle for transferring executives, managers, and specialized knowledge workers among affiliated companies. In general, to qualify for an L visa, the petitioning company (the foreign “Company”) must show that:
- The Company and a U.S. entity have a qualified relationship. There are a number of ways to create the requisite relationship: The Company may (1) open a branch office in the U.S., (2) incorporate a subsidiary in the U.S., or (3) enter into a qualified joint venture in the U.S; the foreign Company must “control” the US company, which typically requires it owns at least 51% of the stock of the US entity.
- Within the three years preceding the petition, the prospective transferee must have worked continuously for the parent foreign employer for at least one year in either an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge employee capacity.
- The employee intends to enter the U.S. to work for the affiliated U.S. company in either an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capicity. This means that the person must manage or direct other employees within the company structure, or have specialized knowledge as an employee, and the US company must be ready to hire such employees on its payroll.
- The employee is qualified to assume the executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity position in the U.S.
- The foreign company must continue to conduct business while the transferee is in the US (at least until permanent residency is secured)
AUTHORIZED LENGTH OF STAY AND NEW OFFICE REQUIREMENTS
Executive or managerial transferee workers (L-1A Visa holders) and their designated immediate family members may remain in the U.S. for a period not exceeding seven (7) years. Specialized knowledge employees (L-1B Visa holders) for a maximum of 5 years. If the U.S. company is a “new” office (i.e. has not been active for more than one year), the initial L visa will be granted for 1 year. After this one year period, the petitioner must show that the company is actively doing business (i.e. showing growth in the number of employees, increase in revenues and increase in the volume of goods sold or services provided). If the U.S. company is not a new office, then the initial period of stay will be 3 years.
BENEFIT OF CONVERTING L1 TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY
The Employer of a manager or executive may elect to convert the foreign national from an L-1A to permanent U.S. residence (more commonly known as the “green card”). Permanent U.S. residence enables foreign nationals to (1) reside, work, and study in the U.S. without limitation, and (2) enter the U.S. without advance permission or predetermined time limits. The requirements for qualified L managers or executives to apply for the green card are essentially the same as for the L visa. Typically, however, we recommend that between 1.5-2 years minimum elapse on the L visa so the U.S. entity can establish a record of sales/services and grow to maximize the chances of approval of the green card petition. As such, at least one L visa renewal will be needed.
SPOUSES AND CHILDREN OF BENEFICIARY EMPLOYEE
As noted above, the spouses and children under the age of 21 years may accompany the L1 visa holder employee to the U.S. under the L2 visa category. As dependents of the L1 visa holder, the spouse may obtain work authorization once in the U.S. and children can remain in the U.S. legally and study.
WHY CHOOSE COLOMBO & HURD?
We have an excellent record representing investors who wish to obtain a US visa to conduct business, manage their investments, or work for a US branch or subsidiary. Our law firm handles all corporate and international work on behalf of the client to ensure that not only the initial visa is approved, but also to maximize the chances of approval for a renewal in the future. If you are interested in learning more about L1 visas, please contact our knowledgeable and experienced L-1 attorneys in Orlando at (407) 478-1111 and Miami at (305) 455-0590 for a consultation.