L1 Visa Special Requirements
Posted on January 02, 2007 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration
Is There Any Special Requirements for L-1 petitions If the Alien Is Coming to the U.S. to Open a New Office?
In the last article, we compared the advantages and disadvantage of EB-5 investment Visa and L visa for the foreign investors. Many readers were more interested in L visas after the last article. Some of them have not established any branches, subsidiaries, affiliate or joint ventures in the U.S. Can they apply for the L visa to open a new office in the US? If they can, is there any difference compared with those who have an established branch or affiliate in the U.S.?
Mr. Lee’s Question:
I have a business in imports and exports. Lately, the business opportunity has grown rapidly in the United States, and I am planning to open a new branch office in the U.S. for the purpose of servicing clients’ needs in the U.S. Can I still apply for the L visa? If I can, are there any special requirements or limitations that I should be aware of?
According to the Immigration Act, there are two types of petition for the L visa. First is for the foreign companies that need to transfer managers, executives or persons with specialized knowledge to the U.S. companies in similar positions. The U.S. company must be an established branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner of the foreign company. Second is for the foreign companies that do not have any branches, subsidiaries, affiliates or joint ventures in the U.S. It is used by the foreign companies that need to have managers or executives to come to the U.S. to open a new office. Therefore, Mr. Lee would be able to apply for the L visa and come to the U.S. to open his branch, even though he has not set up any branches, subsidiaries, affiliates or joint ventures in the United States.
The application process is different in the two types of petitions. For the foreign companies that have already set up branches, subsidiaries, affiliates or joint ventures in the United States for more than one year, they can file the petition to the USCIS directly. For the foreign companies that do not have any offices set up in the U.S. yet, they need to incorporate a legal business entity in the U.S. first. To file an L visa application, Mr. Lee would first need to incorporate a new company in the U.S. As long as the new company in the Unites States is incorporated for the purpose of operating the business in the U.S., there is no requirement for the minimum amount of investment in the U.S. It has no special restrictions regarding the nationality of the investor, the business scope or the minimum incorporating capital either. Mr. Lee could retain an attorney to help him incorporate his new company in the U.S. Mr. Lee could also acquire an established company or set up a joint venture in the U.S. In such a case, however, Mr. Lee should hold at least 50% of the shares of the U.S. company in order to file the L application.
For the L visa, the Immigration Act does not require the minimum investment amount, but it does not mean the applicants can invest in whatever he or she wants. Setting up a new office will generate basic operating costs like, the salary for the employees, the rent, and other expenses to maintain the business operation. Therefore, the USCIS requires that the petitioner show the financial ability to operate a business in the U.S., including the financial ability to support the operation of the business as well as the executive or managerial position for one year. In addition, Mr. Lee would need a financial planning on how much he would need to set up a new office in used-car business in the U.S., and then decide how much investment money he would need to come up with. The evidence for proving the financial ability must be filed together with the L visa application to the USCIS.
In general, in case the beneficiary was being transferred from an oversea company to a U.S. established branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture as a manager or an executive, the L-visa would be valid for three years. On the other hand, for a beneficiary coming to the U.S. to open a new office, the L-via would be valid initially for one year only. But, he or she may be allowed to renew the length of his stay for additional years after the first year.
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.