L-1A Visa (Business Expansion, Intracompany Transfer visa)

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There is a special visa available for companies that wish to expand operations into the United States by opening a branch, a warehouse or an office. This visa, known as the L-1A visa, is one of the most popular — especially since it can lead to permanent residency — and relatively easy to obtain with the right documentation and presentation. The requirements are as follows:

Company requirements

  • The foreign company must have been in operation for at least one year and must remain in operation at all times after the opening of the US division;
  • A qualifying organization may include a branch of the same employer, or a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate;
  • New offices must submit additional evidence, including a business plan, and must show progress on start-up activities after one year.
  • The annual sales volume or gross revenues of the foreign company ideally should exceed $250,000 (or foreign equivalent according to local standard of living);
  • Ideally, the foreign company should employ at least 3 executives or department managers, besides the director or owner;
  • One must be able to demonstrate that the foreign company is successful, in good standing, financially solid, that expansion into the United States will not negatively affect its foreign operations, and that the expansion will eventually create jobs for US workers.

Categories of workers eligible to be transferred to US operation under an L-1A visa.

  • Owners – Must be either the sole owner or a majority shareholder.
  • Executives – Includes the President, Vice-President, Secretary, or Treasurer of the company.
  • Managers, Upper Level – Should be General Managers, Sales Managers, Production Managers, etc. (First-line supervisors generally do not qualify)
  • Specialized Knowledge Workers – Must have special knowledge specific to the product or the company.

Personal requirements for an L-1A visa

  • The L-1A visa applicant must have worked for the foreign company at an executive or managerial level for at least 1 out of the last 3 years;
  • The L-1A visa applicant’s role in the US company must be executive or managerial (professional or functional); and
  • The L-1A visa applicant’s presence in the United States must be essential to the success and the smooth operation of the US company.

L-1A visa processing time and government fees

Government processing is rapid compared to other business visa categories — 15 days or less with premium processing — because there is no need to file either an Application for Labor Certification or a Labor Condition Application. And government filing fees are relatively low, compared with other visa — just $2,050.00 USD including premium processing.

Processing for citizens of CANADA is completed on a same-day basis at most CANADA-U.S. ports of entry or at the U.S. “pre-flight clearance” office located at most international airports in CANADA. (Call: 1-415-329-3962).

After US entity exists for one year, qualifying managers and executives are eligible to apply for permanent residence without testing the job market through the labor certification process.

US Business Expansion (L-1A Visa) versus Treaty Investor (E-2 visa)

It is often the case that one may qualify for either the Treaty Investor (E-2) visa or the Business Expansion (L-1A) visa. The question then arises as to which of the two visas is the most advantageous. Following is our analysis of this question:

The L-1A visa has the following distinct advantages:

  • One does not have to invest a specific amount of cash in advance of visa approval;
  • Once the case is presented, one can have approval in as little as 15 days;
  • Adjudication of the case takes place in the US, rather than at the relevant US Embassy or Consulate (which can be quite tough on investor cases);
  • Eligibility for Priority Permanent Residency in the US after 1 year.

In contrast, the Treaty Investor E-2 visa requires the investment of a “substantial” amount of money, in advance of approval, and usually requires adjudication at a US Embassy or Consulate, which can take several weeks. Also, although one may plan to remain in the US for only a few years, one may change ones mind about this at some point in the future; the E-2 visa does not directly lead to a Green Card regardless of the amount of time one spends in the US

All-inclusive L-1A Visa legal services

In addition to representing international investors and expansionists before the US government, Ortega-Medina & Associates’ all-inclusive fee structure can include incorporating the new US enterprise, obtaining a Federal Employer ID number, helping to locate a temporary or permanent business address for the company (including telephone and fax number), and obtaining the appropriate business licenses. We can also arrange a post-visa consultation with one of our firm’s business and employment law experts.

Please Note: Ortega-Medina & Associates has over ten years experience dealing with US immigration business visa cases. We have experienced success in many cases that were considered hopeless by other law firms. If we decide to take on a case, it is because we feel it stands a strong chance of succeeding. If your L-1A visa petition is denied, for any reason other than a determination that you are inadmissible for reasons of criminality or fraud, we will troubleshoot the denial at no additional cost to you and/or attempt to reprocess your case in an alternative visa category. Please contact us so that we can help you determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for this type of visa application.