L1 Visa — Ultimate Guide from Application to Approval

About the L1 Visa

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Purpose of the L1 Visa

An L1 Visa allows a company that has its headquarters overseas to obtain legal status for an employee that it intends to send to a subsidiary located in the United States or, with the purpose of opening a branch in the United States territory to do business.

Pros

· It allows an established business to expand its operations into the United States through an agent that will take charge of the proceedings related to establishing a new office.

· There’s no minimum investment required for the new office to be established.

· There are no annual limits for L1 visas, therefore a petitioner will not be denied a visa on the basis that the limit of annual visas has been reached.

· The petitioner doesn’t need an academic degree to qualify. Its executive or managerial position in the company applying for the visa is enough to be considered a suitable candidate in that particular area.

· Spouses and dependents can work while they stay in the United States under the L1 visa, after filing the required paperwork.

Cons

· The maximum period of stay for an L1 visa is 7 years, with no possible extension after that limit is reached.

· The employee must fill an executive or managerial position at the company.

· The employee must have worked for the company for at least one continuous year of the three years preceding the application for the L1 visa.

· L1 visas are commonly restricted to multinational companies that have or intend to have a branch or a subsidiary in the United States. Small businesses will find it difficult to qualify for this visa.

Visa Requirements

For the Employer:

· Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company.

o For existing businesses operating in the United States territory, they must prove that they have a relationship with a foreign entity. Such entity could have the status of a parent company, subsidiary, affiliate or branch and they are known as

· The company must be actively doing business or intending to do so, in the United States territory and acting as an employer in at least one foreign country for the duration of the stay of the employee under the L1 visa.

o For the purpose of an L1 visa application, refers to being actively engaged in selling goods and services.

o A company that operates or intends to set up an office with no active commercial activity will not be considered as one that is

· The business must be viable, even though no minimum limits are explicitly mentioned in the L1 visa requirements list.

Duration of the L1 Visa

L1 visa holders who are approved to work at an existing business will be grated with a three-year maximum initial of stay visa. For those who intend to open a new branch in the United States territory, the visa will be extended for a period of one year. L1 visa holders can also apply for an extension. Such extensions may be granted in two-year increments until the applicant reaches a maximum period of stay of seven years.

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Application Requirements for an L1 Visa

Required Documentation for an L1 Visa Application

The following documentation is required to apply for an L1 Visa:

· A completed Form I-129.

· A completed DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application if the candidate is located overseas.

· L Classification Supplement to Form I-129.

· Evidence that the beneficiary has maintained a lawful status while living in the United States (if applicable).

· Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the company and the foreign entity listed in the application.

· A description of the job duties and the scope of the job to be performed by the employee.

· Evidence that the applicant will be filling an executive or managerial position within the company.

· Evidence that the applicant has maintained an executive or managerial position for at least one year in the qualifying company.

· For petitions that aim to establish a new office in the United States, the following requirements must also be fulfilled:

o A description of the job duties.

o Evidence that a physical location has been secured to carry on with the intended work.

o Evidence that the role to be fulfilled by the applicant is an executive or managerial role within the new office.

o Evidence that the business has the capacity to maintain such executive or managerial position for at least one year.

· The filing fee for the I-129 is $460 for the applicant and $370 for the filing of each I-539 form. If the applicant is abroad, an additional $190 fee must be paid for the DS-160 online form.

· Additionally, certain petitioners are required to pay a $4,000 or $4,500 fee known as the Public Law 114–113 fee.

· Finally, the USCIS charges a $500 one-time fee known as the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee.

Processing time

It takes approximately 2 to 4 months for the USCIS to process an L1 Visa application. On the other hand, the process can be expedited if the candidate applies for premium processing, by paying a fee of $1,410 (updated on Oct. 1, 2018). In this case, the USCIS guarantees that the Visa application will be reviewed and responded within 15 calendar days after the Form I-129 is received.

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L1 Visa Processing Time

Application Process

Renewal Process

The process to apply for an extension of your L1 Visa is fairly simple. The most crucial part of the process is that you are able to prove that you continue to be employed at the company that originally sponsored your visa application.

These are the basic requirements to apply for an extension of your L1 Visa:

a. File a form I-129.

b. Provide evidence that the employee continues to work at the company originally listed as his sponsor under the L1 Visa Application.

c. If you have traveled overseas during your period of stay and you want to recapture those days on your extension you must provide valid proof that the trips occurred.

d. Pay a filing fee of $460.

e. Pay a $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee.

Tips for A Good L1 Visa Application

According to Envoy, a company that provides immigration advice to businesses in and outside the United States, these are some of the key tips to make sure your L1 Visa Application turns out as expected:

1. Be as detailed as possible when you provide eligibility evidence for your employee.

The documentation presented to prove that the employee has acted in an executive or managerial capacity, as required, includes evidence of e-mail correspondence, signed contracts, and employee performance evaluations.

2. Make sure you demonstrate a clear affiliation between the foreign company and the U.S. branch.

In this sense, legal documentation will be required to demonstrate that the company qualifies as a parent company, subsidiary, branch or affiliate. This requirement can be fulfilled by presenting stock certificates, articles of incorporation or audited financial statements that indicate that such a relationship exists legally.

3. Be requested for any additional Request for Evidence (RFE).

Proving the existence of a previous or current work relationship, in the quality of an executive or manager, between the applicant and the sponsoring company is not always as straightforward as it sounds. The consulate may have issues understanding the extent of the job duties and whether those responsibilities can be considered as ‘executive’. For this reason, they may demand further evidence through a formal Request for Evidence (RFE) notice.

Tips for Hiring an Immigration Lawyer for your L1 Visa Application

Picking an attorney who specializes in immigration law is essential to make sure your needs and doubts are well served and your application process is carried on adequately. Here are a few tips we have compiled for you to help you in this endeavor:

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1. Check the law firm with its local Bar Association.

All states within the United States have a Bar Association that can inform you if any formal claims have been filed against a certain lawyer or law firm. You can call them or pay them a visit before you commit any money to your prospective legal counselor. You can find a list of all State Bar Associations in the United States here.

2. Check if the lawyer or law firm is a part of the American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA)

Immigration law is a specialized field and your lawyer must be an experienced professional in this area of expertise to make sure you are getting counsel from someone who knows the caveats of the application and approval process. The AILA can confirm for you if any particular lawyer is an active member of the association.

3. Check your lawyer with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB tracks the performance of several business entities and you can browse your prospective law firm through their directory to make sure they don’t have any significant claims that may indicate they may not serve as proper counselors.

4. Know which questions to ask.

There are dozens of useful articles on the internet that you can read to develop a list of valuable questions that you may ask your prospective immigration lawyer to make sure he’s the right candidate for the job. Google your way to a great first interview.

Written by

Pro Business Plans works with clients to prepare business plans, pitch decks, and other materials for investment and market research. | www.business-plans.com

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