Who Qualifies for an L-1 Visa … and Why You Need a Business Plan for it

The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to qualifying intra-company transferees (employees) coming to the United States to work for that company, or a related or affiliated company. Three types of employees may be sponsored for L-1 visas, managers, executives and those possessing specialized knowledge.

Executives are classified as individuals who are involved in the strategic planning and development of the business, Managers, on the other hand, are individuals involved in the day to day direction and administration of the company’s employees, and “specialized knowledge” applies to someone with unique knowledge of the employer’s products, research, proprietary techniques, operational procedures or industry standards.

A qualifying company in the U.S. can sponsor an employee for an L-1 visa, as long as the employee qualifies in either the above categories and the employee has worked at least one year during the last three at the non-U.S. office. The sponsoring company must continue to do business outside the U.S. for the duration of the employee’s L-1 status. Although there is no requirement that the sponsoring company be U.S. owned, it is required that there exist a  controlling relationship between the foreign company and the U.S. company.

A major benefit of the L-1 visa is that a petition for lawful permanent residence can be made after one year of employment in the U.S, without the need of a labor certification. This is a direct and faster method to permanent residency. 

It is important to have an in-depth business plan that will provide the required planning and proof of resources that the relevant position really does exist. This plan must include evidence that an office location has been secured, as well as the market data and research to show that the company will develop in the future to such a degree that it will require a managerial or executive position. 

A business plan is vitally important to your visa application if you have a small company or are trying to open a new office in the United States. Also, large corporations should always include a business plan to individuals applying for L-1 visas. Developing an immigration-compliant business plan is a crucial step in preparing your L-1 visa application.