The L-1 Visa: Relocating Employees to the United States

The L-1 Visa: Relocating Employees to the United States

The L-1 visa represents a superb opportunity for businesses to bring or send high-level employees to the USA from an overseas branch or affiliate. This article describes the visa’s specifications and comparative advantages.

1. Qualifications. To qualify, a foreign employee should be a manager, professional, or technically skilled. Within the last three years the employee must also have one or more years’ experience with the company or its affiliates. Affiliates include branches of the company, parent organizations, and subsidiaries.

Notably, the business’s investment in the United States must be at least $50,000. This relatively low investment threshold allows companies to use this visa to send startup employees to the US. Owners, general managers, and executives should consider this a chance to extend their businesses to America.

There are no requirements regarding the type of services or products the qualifying employee must help provide. Similarly a business and its overseas counterpart do not need to conduct the same type of business activities. And it makes no difference whether the business or its counterpart employ ten people or 10,000. The L-1 visa applies broadly within the international business world.

2. Length of Stay in US. The L-1 visa technically belongs in the temporary, multi-year “non-immigrant” visa category, though visa recipients can generally stay in the United States as long as desired. Would-be visa holders often submit an application with “dual intent.” Dual intent means the employee can apply for this temporary visa with the intention of immigrating to the US indefinitely.

Initially the L-1 visa is valid for only one year. The visa holder can then request two-year extensions. Managerial-level employees can extend their stay within the same classification for up to seven total years; professional and technical employees for five years. These extensions often allow an employee to remain in the United States long enough to gain a green card.

3. Bringing Family to USA. L-1 visa holders have the option of bring their spouses and minor children (under the age of 21) to the United States as well. The spouses can then apply for work permits in the USA, and the children have free access to American public schools.

4. Advantages Over Comparable Visas. The L-1 visa has distinct advantages over many similar visa categories, such as B-1, H1-B, and EB-5 visas. B-1 visa holders frequently have difficulty staying in the United States long enough to complete their work. The H1-B visa increases the time and expense associated with employees who eventually apply for green cards. And the EB-5 visa is simply cost prohibitive for all but the wealthiest businesspeople.

The L-1 visa typically represents the best choice for relocating higher-level employees to the USA.

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