The L-1 Visa: Opening a New Office in the United States

The L-1 visa allows U.S. businesses to transfer professional employees who currently work at branch or affiliate office of a US company and transfer them to a U.S. office. The L-1A visa is for an executive or manager. The L-1B visa is for an employee with specialized knowledge relating to the company's technologies, products, processes or procedures.

The L-1 employee can also be sent to help establish a new office in the U.S. When the L-1 petition is for the purpose of a new office, the visa will initially only be granted for one year. The employer will also be required to show that it has "secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office" and the "employer has the financial ability to compensate the employee and begin doing business in the United States."

The following are the business documents which are often included in an L-1 petition for a new office:

Certificate of Incorporation – Incorporating the business in the state of choice and obtaining a Federal Tax identification number are often the first steps in opening a new business

Business Plan – The company should include with the L-1 petition a detailed business plan including a financial forecast, market analysis and hiring plan

Office Lease – The company will have to show it has a designated office location large enough to accommodate the intended business operations

Recruitment – This is of greater importance in an L-1A petition, and can include copies of agreements with local employment agencies to recruit U.S. employees for the new office

Funding – This can include proof of capital investment in the U.S. business including money transferred from the foreign parent Company

Invoices and Agreements – Documents showing the existing U.S. business operations

As a business law and immigration attorney, I am familiar with the legal issues involved with setting up a new business, as well as the manner in which the business decisions can affect the company's immigration-related hiring plans.

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Alice Antonovsky
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