The L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa which allows companies to relocate foreign qualified employees to its U.S. subsidiary or parent company. The qualified employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the company for at least one year out of the last three years. The U.S. company must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company.
The L-1 visa is a good way for small or start-up overseas companies to expand their business and services to the United States. This is advantageous to smaller companies because it allows for the transfer of a highly proficient manager or executive who has direct knowledge of operations, allowing the setup of a new branch in compliance with the goals and objectives of the company’s main office. However, since the USCIS will scrutinize L visa petitions filed by lesser-known companies more closely, professional consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer is strongly recommended for these types of small businesses.
L-1 visas can also be used by multi-national companies. When a multi-national company is developing a new market in another country, it may become necessary to have some employees with specialized knowledge work in the newly established office. Furthermore, such companies may have policies of international rotation of managerial level personnel to assure that all key personnel within a company have equal opportunity for career advancement when an appropriate position becomes open in any location around the world. Cross-fertilization of ideas among high level employees and executives enhances a company’s competitiveness; this exchange often results in innovation essential to a company's reputation and development. A regular rotation of key personnel improves and ensures uniformity of service and procedure within the company at a global level. Whatever the case may be, the L visa is specifically designed to facilitate the needs of intra-company transfers by companies.
COMPARED TO AN E VISA
An E visa is another type of employment based non-immigrant visa that can also be used by small business owners or small companies to bring owners or employees to the United States. However, the E visa category is designed solely treaty traders and treaty investors who come to the United States to engage in trade between the U.S. and the country in which they are employed. An E visa is available only when the following three conditions are met: 1) A treaty must exist between the United States and the foreign country under whose treaty the E status is sought; 2) majority ownership or control of the investing or trading company must be held by nationals of the foreign country under whose treaty the E status is sought; and 3) each employee or principal of the company who is seeking the E status pursuant to the treaty must hold citizenship of the country under whose treaty the status is sought.
At the present time, there are many countries that do not have such treaties with the United States. For those countries, an E visa is simply not available and an L visa might be a good alternative. Please call us today if you want to know more about L-1 visas or E Visas.
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