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The L-1 visa rules may seem straightforward, but with high rates of denials—forty-one percent in one subset, alone—it is very important that you and your experienced immigration attorney carefully craft your application based upon the letter of the law and the practical goings on that are internal to the immigration service.  Because there are unique requirements for both the L-1A and the L-1B visa categories, we will discuss each of them in turn.  There also exist separate sub-categories of L visas for opening a new business and for “blanket” L visa petitions whose visa rules we will review in a subsequent blog post.  None of these tips are a substitute for an individualized assessment by your immigration lawyer as every case involves a multitude of nuances.

L-1A: L1 Visa Application for Executives and Managers

The L-1A visa category exists for executives or managers who are coming to the U.S. typically to either open in the U.S. market for the first time, change the course of U.S. business, or expand throughout the U.S.  In order to have a complete packet to submit to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the applicant should minimally include the following items:

  • An employment contract for the beneficiary;
  • A comprehensive position description which describes the job the beneficiary will be doing in the U.S.;
  • Corporate governance documents which detail the relationship between the U.S. and foreign business entities and delineate the ownership interests of the individuals or entities that own the foreign and U.S. entities;
  • Professional credentials and background of the beneficiary;
  • Information about the U.S. workspace and the U.S. business operation;
  • Proof that the foreign entity has ongoing operations, which will continue subsequent to visa approval.

L-1B: L1 Visa Application for Individuals with Specialized Knowledge

The L-1B visa category exists for individuals who have specialized company knowledge of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests, and its application in international markets.  This category may also include persons with advanced knowledge or expertise in the enterprise’s processes and procedures.  To have a complete packet for USCIS to comply with the L1 visa requirements and rules for the L-1B visa, the applicant will want to ensure that the following items should be included, at a minimum:

  • Documentary evidence of the nature of the relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary, such as a copy of the contract or a summary of the terms of the agreement between the parties;
  • A position description;
  • Corporate governance documents;
  • Beneficiary information, including substantiation of the details of his or her special qualifications for this role;
  • Information relating to the U.S. business, including how the beneficiary’s particular knowledge or expertise will be engaged by the U.S. operation.

Is a Business Plan Required?

There is much discussion regarding whether a business plan is required for the L1 visa application.  The L1 visa requirements and rules leave room for variance here, and many cases will not need nor want to submit a business plan, which probably will be preferable in cases involving the projection of business growth over the period of three to five years in lieu of a showing of extant business.

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