L-1 Visa: Relocation of Employees to the United States

L-1 Visa: Relocation of Employees to the United States

The L-1 visa represents an excellent opportunity for businesses to bring or send high-level employees to the US from an overseas branch or affiliate. This article describes the specifications and comparative advantages of the visa.

1. Qualifications. To be eligible, the foreign employee must be managerial, professional or technically experienced. In the past three years, the employee must also have one or more years of experience with the company or its affiliates. Affiliates include company branches, parent organizations and subsidiaries.

It should be noted that the business 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 expand their business in America.

There are no requirements as to the type of services or products the qualified employee must assist in providing. Similarly, a business and its overseas partner need not carry out the same type of business activities. And it makes no difference whether the business or its partner employs ten people or 10,000. The L-1 visa is widely used in the international business world.

2. Length of stay in the US. The L-1 visa technically belongs to the temporary, multi-year “nonimmigrant” visa category, although visa recipients can generally stay in the United States for as long as they wish. Prospective visa holders often make a ‘dual intent’ application. Dual intent means that the employee can apply for this temporary visa with the intention of immigrating to the US indefinitely.

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

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

4. Advantages over similar 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 often have difficulty staying in the United States long enough to complete their work. The H1-B visa adds to the time and costs associated with employees ultimately applying for green cards. And the EB-5 visa is simply too expensive for all but the richest businessmen.

The L-1 visa is usually the best choice for moving higher-level employees to the US.

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