Orange County L-1 Visa Attorney
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What Is an L-1 Visa?
The L-1, intracompany transferee visa, is a visa classification that enables a U.S. Company to transfer executives and managers (L1-A) and “specialized knowledge” employees (L1-B) from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. It is a temporary non-immigrant visa, and this type of visa gives you the ability to stay in the United States temporarily and with limited rights. Contact an Orange County L-1 Visa attorney at Evolution Tax and Legal for assistance navigating the L-1 Visa process.
L-1A Visa: Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
The L-1A Visa category can be used to transfer manager and executive-level employees from the overseas office to the U.S. office. It is essential to document clear managerial responsibilities with considerable authority in the company.
L-1B Visa: Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
The L-1B Visa category can be used to transfer employees with specialized knowledge from the overseas office to the U.S. office. “Specialized knowledge” offers considerable scope for interpretation, and it is essential to work with an immigration attorney who can help you understand whether you have grounds to claim a visa using L-1B status.
How Can an Immigration Lawyer Help With Obtaining Your L-1 Visa?
There are several reasons why you should choose to hire an attorney to help to apply for you L-1 Visa:
- Expertise: An attorney with specific knowledge in immigration law will have a thorough understanding of the visa application process and will be able to advise you if you qualify for and which is the best type of L-1 Visa to apply for, based on your specific circumstances. He will also know the nuances of the visa and what to expect from an L-1 visa application.
- Efficiency: An attorney can help you to complete your L-1 visa application correctly and efficiently, which can help to avoid delays or problems with your application. The documentation required for an L-1 Visa application are complex and can be overwhelming, so it is important to work with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that you provide all of the necessary documents and information.
- Reviewing your application: An attorney can review your L-1 visa application and supporting documents to ensure that everything is complete and accurate and can help you to address any issues or deficiencies before you submit your application.
- Representation: If you received a Request for Evidence or your visa application is denied an attorney with immigration knowledge can represent you and advocate on your behalf.
Peace of mind: The visa application process can be complex and stressful, and hiring an attorney can help to provide you with peace of mind and assurance that your application is being handled correctly.
Key Features of the L-1 Visa
- L-1 Visa holders can legally work in the U.S. for the L-1 sponsor (i.e. U.S. company) for up to three years on the first visa if the U.S. office has been in operation for at least one year. If the U.S. company has not been in operation for at least one year, this is considered a new office, and the initial validity is just one year. See below L-1A – New Office Application for more information.
- Extensions of up to two years are available, with a maximum time in the U.S. of seven years for a manager or executive or five years for a person with specialized knowledge.
- The L-1 Visa holders may work only for the U.S. employer/company that served as the visa sponsor, and the employer must be a parent, branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or joint venture partner of the company that currently employs the person outside the U.S. before the employee come to the U.S.
- L-1 Visa holders’ spouses and dependent children (up to 21 years old) may come to the U.S. under the L-2 Visa category. In addition, the L-1 Visa’s spouse may apply for employment authorization and legally work once they enter the U.S.
- If the person has an L-1A Visa, based on an executive or managerial level position in the U.S. company, and the company can sponsor the L-1A Visa holder employer/company – under the EB-1C Visa category for Multinational Managers or Executives -, or some other employer/company, wishes to sponsor the person for a Green Card, the immigration law enables him/her to pursue this. Since the L-1 Visa is “dual intent,” you are permitted to search for alternative visas and apply for a Green Card and do not need to prove an intention to return home as some other types of Visa requests.
L-1 Visa Requirements
- Generally, for an application to qualify for an L-1 visa, the person must have been employed outside the U.S. (i.e. the foreign affiliate company) for at least one continuous year out of the past three years and is being transferred to the U.S. to work as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge worker. Managers and executives would receive L-1A visas, and people with special knowledge would obtain L-1B visas.
- The U.S. company to which you are transferring the executive or manager must be a parent, branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or joint venture partner of the non-US employer/company physically located outside the United States. This company may be a foreign division of a US-based company or may have originated in a country outside the United States. Either one suits the definition of a non-U.S. company.
- Both companies, the US-based company and the foreign affiliate company, must continue operations (“doing business”) for the duration of your visa. The visa holder should expect to be transferred back upon return.
L-1 Visa Application Process
The L-1A and L-1B Visas application process involves submitting a visa petition with extensive supporting evidence, going through a review process, and completing an interview. Regardless of the Category under which you may qualify, the process involves multiple government agencies, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State (if you’re abroad).
Does the L1 Visa Require an Investment?
The L-1 does not require an investment as part of the application. However, there must be an operating U.S. entity for the applicant to transfer to, the U.S. company must be “doing business” in the U.S.
“Doing business” means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
For people seeking a New Office L-1, the U.S. entity must be set up in advance, and there may be investment associated with this. It is important to demonstrate that the U.S. company is sufficiently capitalized to support its operations and elevate the beneficiary to a managerial or executive position.
How Can L-1 Visa Holders Get a Green Card?
If you are a manager or executive position in the United States on an L-1A category visa, you may apply for your Green Card through the EB-1C visa. The EB-1-C Immigrant visa category awards Green Cards to individuals who have been employed abroad by a qualifying entity and who are transferred to a U.S. entity in a managerial or executive capacity. For those individuals who qualify, the EB-1-C Green Card provides a relatively straightforward path to a Green Card in a preference category that historically has no quota backlogs. The L-1A Visa and EB-1 requirements are quite similar in terms of the qualifying entities and employment.
As mentioned above, L-1B Visas for employees with specialized knowledge are valid for a maximum of five years, and after this time, you must leave the country or switch to another visa. Unlike the L-1A, the EB-1C is not likely an option for the L-1B Visa holders. L-1B Visa holders may be able to build a case for an EB-2 Visa (advanced degree) or an EB-3 Visa (highly skilled worker) to get permanent residence.
L-1 Visas: New Offices
An L-1A can be utilized in conjunction with a startup entity that has not been doing business for an entire year prior to filing the L-1 Visa petition, known as a “new office” petition. This option offers important opportunities for entrepreneurs who have run successful and sustained businesses abroad and are now looking to open businesses in the U.S.
New Office petitions tend to be more document-intensive as they have additional requirements beyond those imposed upon established L-1 Visa petitioners. Specifically, such petitions must include evidence that:
- Sufficient physical premises for the office have been secured. Usually, a lease must be signed and in effect prior to filing;
- The new U.S. office and the foreign company must have a qualifying relationship (parent-subsidiary, affiliate, branch, or joint venture partner) but do not necessarily need to operate in the same market or industry.
- The L-1A Visa beneficiary has met the one-year continuous employment abroad requirement. Time spent in the U.S., even if done in conjunction with establishing the new entity under the control of the foreign employer, does not count toward qualification;
- Within one year of the approval of the petition, the intended U.S. operations will support an executive or managerial position (i.e. salary).
- Generally, comprehensive business plans are required. Such plans need to detail the foreign and domestic entities, include financial pro formas statements, document investments made, and the ability to pay employees. Detailed hiring plans are also helpful in such discussions.
- A “new office” petition is approved for only one year. The petitioner may extend the petition for two additional years toward the seven-year limit upon showing that the entity remains active and operating (“doing business”) and that the executive or managerial petition is sustainable.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an L-1 Visa Attorney in Orange County, CA
Visa applications are a complex process that requires experienced Orange County L-1 Visa lawyers and a long-term relationship with those professionals. It is essential to choose wisely who will guide you through this path. Evolution Tax & Legal has a complete and competent team of professionals with immigration, corporate, and taxation law backgrounds that will cover all you need to have a complete and solid case. We offer free initial consultations to establish whether you have a strong case for applying for the L-1 Visa.