L1 Visa Qualifications

Posted on August 15, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

As we mentioned in the last article, the L visa can open unlimited business opportunities in the U.S. for the foreign investors. Then the question is: how do I apply for an L visa? What are the requirements the company and the employees need to meet?

The L visa is for qualified multinational companies to transfer its managers, executives or employees with special knowledge from abroad to work in the U.S.  In order to apply for the L visa, the multinationals must have a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture in the United States. Otherwise, the non-U.S. company has to incorporate a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliates, or purchase a company in the United States before applying for the L-1 visa.

Generally speaking, it is not very difficult to incorporate a new company in the U.S.  As long as the new company in the U.S. is incorporated for the purpose of doing business in the United States, the U.S. law has no requirement for the minimum amount of investment. Furthermore, the U.S. law of corporation has no special restrictions regarding the nationality of investor, the business scope or the minimum incorporating capital.  Therefore, if an investor wants to incorporate a business in the U.S., he or she only needs to provide the following documents:

  1. English name of the company;
  2. Address of the company;
  3. Name and address of board members (at least one);
  4. Stock ownership and the list of shareholders, including their names, addresses and the percentage of share owned;
  5. List of management, including the president, vice president and CFO (all posts can be undertaken by one person).

It normally takes one month for incorporation, but if the case is urgent it can be completed in one week. The foreign investor can also purchase a company or establish a joint-venture in the U.S., but the investor should hold at least 50% of the shares of the U.S. company in order to apply for the L visa.

In order to get the L visa, the beneficiary should meet the following requirements:

  1. The petitioner must be the qualified branches, subsidiaries, affiliates, or joint-ventures of the foreign entity;
  2. The beneficiary of the L-1 visa must be employed outside the U.S. for at least one out of the past 3 years;
  3. The petitioner must have enough money in the bank to prove that it has money to run the business in the US indeed.

If both the petitioner and the beneficiary can meet the above requirements, they can apply for the L-1 visa. In general, it takes 1 to 3 months for the L-1 visa to be approved.  If petitioners requested the premium processing service, however, it can be completed in 15 days. Once the petition is approved, the beneficiary must go to the U.S. embassy or the consulate office at overseas to apply for the visa. If the subsidiary or the branch office in the U.S. has been established for less than a year, the L-1 visa can initially be approved for only one year. Extensions of three years at a time may be allowed until the beneficiary has been in the U.S. for a total of seven years. The spouse of the beneficiary of the L-1 visa can petition for the L-2 visa.

In the process of applying for an L-1 visa, especially when the multinationals have no branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint-venture in the U.S., the incorporation of a new company or the purchase of corporation in the U.S. is very important because it is the first step to enter into the U.S. market. Thus, before one made his or her decision to make an investment, it is suggested that he or she consulted with an experienced attorney for advice.

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.