The United States provides foreign business unparalleled opportunities for expansion and growth. We have one of the strongest economies in the world and U.S. consumers have significant purchasing power. As a result, many foreign employers have established offices within the United States or wish to do so. The L-1A nonimmigrant visa allows foreign employers to transfer executives or managers to their United States offices or to send an executive or manager to the United States in order to establish one. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the L-1A Visa. For more specific information, call our office today.
What are the General Qualifications for Employers Seeking an L-1A Visa for an Employee?
In order to obtain an L-1A for an employee, an employer has to have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company. Qualifying relationships include new subsidiaries, branches, subsidiaries, affiliates, or parent companies. In addition, the employer must currently be or will in the future be doing business in the United States and another country through a qualifying organization during the period of the visa beneficiaries stay in the United States. Doing business means a systematic, continuous, and regular provision of goods, services, or a combination of both, and does not include simply maintaining a presence in the United States.
What are the Qualifications for Employees?
In order to come to the United States on an L-1A visa, employees must generally have been working for the qualifying organization overseas for a full year in a managerial or executive capacity within the three years prior to seeking entry into the United States. In addition, the employee must be seeking entry into the United States to provide managerial or executive services to the same employer or for an organization that has a qualifying relationship with the employer.
Are There Special Requirements for Employers Seeking to Establish a New Office?
Yes. Foreign employers who are seeking an L-1A visa for an employee that will establish a new office must also establish the following facts to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):
- The employer has been able to secure physical premises that will be sufficient for the proposed office;
- The employee has been working as a manager or an executive for a full continuous year during the three-year period before the petition was filed; and
- The proposed office in the United States will support an managerial or executive position within one year of the petition being approved.
How Long can Employees on an L-1A Visa Stay in the United States?
Employees who are granted entry into the United States on an L-1A Visa to establish a new office will be initially allowed a maximum stay of one year. Those entering the United States to transfer to an existing office, in operation for over one year, will be granted an initial stay of 3 years. Requests for an extension of stay for both categories of employees are granted in increments of up to two years, up to a maximum of seven years.