L-1 Visa for Merchants: Using Your Business to Enter the United States One way to be able to enter and live in the United States may be through your business or company. This opportunity comes in the form of an L visa, of which there are two types. The first type is the L-1A visa which is for “Administrators” and “executives” of companies. The second is the L-1B visa which is available to those individuals who have “specialized knowledge” regarding the business that is essential to success in the U.S.
1) How can I qualify for an L-1A or L-1B Visa? Some of the main requirements of this visa are: • If you are the owner of a foreign company (in your country), the company must have at least one year of function before applying for the visa. This application will have to be supported with proof and documentation such as taxes. • If you are an employee of the company, who is going to be sent to the U.S. to open a branch or a subsidiary and wish to file a petition as an executive, manager, or person with specialized knowledge of the company, you must provide proof that you have worked for the company for at least one of the last three years. • During your stay in the U.S. on the L visa, the foreign company, which is the main company used to create the office or subsidiary company in the U.S., must remain in operation. • It must be shown that the owner of the majority of the company, both abroad and the company in the U.S. is in the hands of one person. Otherwise if it is inferior, control over the business can be used to satisfy the requirement of the relationship between the two businesses. • You must qualify as a “Manager”, “Executive”, or as someone “with specialized knowledge” regarding the products, services, techniques or similar of the foreign company. Each of these positions has a specific legal definition that needs to be satisfied. • The nature and size of the foreign company, or whether the office, branch or subsidiary in the U.S. is newly founded is largely irrelevant to visa availability. In addition, with the L visa there is no minimum amount of money that must be invested in the company in the U.S., although you have to invest enough to prove that the business is running. 2) What are some of the benefits this visa gives me? • With the L-1A or L-1B visa you can bring your spouse and children under the age of 21 along with you to live in the U.S. as long as your L visa is valid. In addition, your spouse can accept any employment in the U.S. • With the L-1A visa you will be entitled to remain in the U.S. for a total of up to seven years. Under the L-1B visa you can be in the U.S. for up to a total of five years. Keep in mind that while you are maintaining your status under the L visa (nonimmigrant visa in the U.S.), you can legally apply for permanent residency. If you receive permanent residency, then you are no longer limited by L visa restrictions and have the right to permanently reside in the U.S. as long as you don’t have something that causes disqualification. The L Visa offers great opportunities for business people abroad to work and live in the U.S., while broadening their business horizons. This is a basic explanation about the L visa and each case requires an individual consultation. Call my office for an appointment. The first consultation is free. Abraham B. Cardenas, Esquire Cardenas Law Firm, LLC 8150 SW 8 St, Suite 122 Miami, Florida 33144 (786) 347-1605