L-1 EMPLOYMENT VISA
Questions Regarding L-1 Employment Visa
The L-1 visa category basically allows a qualified employee of a foreign company into the U.S. office. The U.S. office may be a new one that is set up now. A qualified employee is either an executive, manager or an employee of specialized knowledge. The key fact to remember is that the business in the US must be either a “parent,” "subsidiary" or an “affiliate” of the foreign company.
Let's explore the L-1 Employment Visa through a series of questions:
1. How long can I stay in the US under an L-1 visa? You would be able to stay in the US for up to 7 years under an L-1 visa, and would be able to apply for permanent residency in the US during that time. If you were opening up a 'new office' in the US, the initial visa would only be granted for one year, but 2-year extensions may be granted by the USCIS, upon request, for a total of 7 years. L-1 visa holders have a distinct advantage over other visa holders when applying for permanent residency, as the USCIS allocates around 40,000 permanent residency visas to "priority workers" annually.
2. Can my family members join me through an L-1 visa? Yes. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can join you under an L-1 visa. Your spouse may be allowed to work in the US and your children should be able to study here.
3. What kind of relationship must there be between my business in my home country and my business in the US? All the while you are in the US under an L-1 visa your business in the home country must be operational. The business in the US must be 'related' to the business in your home country — for example by being a branch office or subsidiary.
4. Does the US business need to be a like-kind business to the home country business? No. This is the freedom allowed by the L-1 visa. You can come to the US and purchase or set up a business in a field that is unrelated to the business in your home country as long as it satisfies the "relationship" criteria outlined above.
5. What kind of role do you have to fulfill in the US-based business? The USCIS rules state that you must fulfill an "executive," or specialized knowledge role in the US-based business. "Executive" means that you establish the goals and policies of the organization and direct the management of the organization. "Managerial" means that you manage the supervisors and control the work of other employees. Employee of specialized knowledge means that you possess specific skills, knowledge or applications of some function of the foreign company.
6. What are the financial requirements of the L-I visa? Since it focuses on the "employment" of the applicant, the L-1 visa requires that your US-based business should be able to support you, as its 1 manager, with a salary commensurate with other executives and managers. Salaries as low as $50,000 have proven to be acceptable in the past.