L1 Visa Advantages

Posted on August 08, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

In order to survive in the world of globalization and from the fast changing economy, more and more companies are forced to go overseas to remain competitive.  Under this trend, many foreign companies are trying to get into the U.S. market because the U.S. economy is still the number one in the world, in addition to having the biggest consumer market in the world.  Moreover, its innovation industry (high tech industry, entertainment industry, etc.) is still left unchallenged in the world.  With the ever growing importance of innovation in business competition, it has become crucial for many foreign companies to enter the U.S.  By entering the U.S. market, not only can foreign companies access to a bigger market to sell their products, but they can also have a direct contact with their customers.  This allows them to better serve their customers and learn to be more innovative.  However, entering the U.S. market is not easy.  On one hand, the U.S. market is very competitive.  It is far easier for foreign companies to lose money than to actually make money.  On the other hand, although the U.S. government encourages foreign entities to invest in the U.S., the U.S. immigration system is getting increasingly complicated.  It is not easy for foreign companies to find out what is the best way to organize their activities in the U.S. and send their employees there.

From our years of experience in assisting foreign entities to invest in the U.S. and apply for L visas and green cards for the employees and their family members, we find that the L visa is undoubtedly a good choice for foreign entrepreneurs, especially for those who are interested in getting the lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.

As one of the most important categories in non-immigrant visas, the L-1 visa is mostly for the employees who are transferred to work in the U.S. in companies that have qualified relationships with foreign multinationals. The L-1 visa has two sub-categories: L-1A for managers and executives, and L-1B for employees with special knowledge. Spouses of the employees in both categories can apply for L-2 visas.

Compared with other kinds of visas, the L visa has the following advantages. First, the requirement of the L visa is easier to meet than that of the investment immigration visa (EB-5). Once the foreign entity has qualified branches, subsidiaries, affiliates or joint-venture partners in the U.S., it can apply for the L visa for its employees. For those foreign companies that have no existing branches or subsidiaries in the U.S. it is easy for them to establish a new business there. As long as the new branch is established for the purpose of doing business there is no requirement for the minimum amount of investment.  However, if one is to apply for an investment visa instead of the L-1, he or she would need to invest at least $1 million ($500,000 in economically depressed areas). Obviously, the risk of the L visa is much smaller and it is relatively easy to get.

Second, since the L visa holder can travel in and out of the U.S. freely while the L-1 visa is valid (normally for three years and can be renewed before it expires), foreign companies can use the L-1 visa to send their employees to work legally in the U.S.  Companies can take this opportunity to do marketing and research on the U.S. market, have direct contact with their customers, and look for new business models and new business ideas.

Third, compared to the B-1/B-2, H-1B, and H-2 visas, one big advantage of the L visa would be that the spouse and children of the L visa holder can apply for L-2 visas and can work or study in the U.S. legally.  The L-1 visa is very good for those entrepreneurs who not only want to run a business in the U.S., but also want to have the opportunity to bring their families to live and study in the U.S.

Finally, L-1A visa holders would be on a faster track when they decide to apply for a green card, in comparison with people fr other visa categories.  This is because L-1A holders are given first preference in employment-based immigration.  As a result, the L-1A visa holder would not have to go through the Labor Certification process when applying for a green card. Additionally, the waiting period of this category is much shorter than those of other employment categories, so L-1A holders could get green cards earlier than other employment-based immigrants could.

In summary, the L visa opens the door for foreign companies and entrepreneurs to get into the huge U.S. markets.  For foreign investors who want to compete globally and expand their business in the U.S., how can you miss this good opportunity?

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.