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How to Apply for L-1 Visa to Start a New Business in the United States?

Hi William,

As a
foreign company, how can we apply for L-1 visa to start a new business in the United States?


The L-1 visa is an option for a foreign company that that seeks to send an employee to work at a company in the United States. The L-1 visa is also a good option for a foreign company to send an alien employee to open a new office in the United States. The alien employee should have a set of professional skills, and either be a manager/executive (L-1A visa) or having particular specialized knowledge (
L-1B visa). 

For a foreign company to start a new business in the United States, the L-1 intra-company transfer visa allows to start operations in the U.S., move key personnel who are managers, executives and specialized knowledge employees. The L-1 visa allows qualified executives and managers a faster path to secure U.S. Green Card under the EB1 Multinational Executive or Manager (EB-1C) category. The L-1 visa to start a new business in the United States is widely used by citizens of foreign countries that are not on the E-1 or E-2 treaty list, such as China and India, among many others.

In the past few years, there is an increase in Requests for Evidence (RFE) and denials of L-1 petitions. This is particularly the case for applicants in the specialized knowledge category or those seeking to extend an L-1 visa that was granted for opening a new office in the United States. The USCIS adjudicator's scrutiny makes an L-1 petition an extremely document intensive visa category that must be prepared carefully. There are 4 main requirements to obtain an L-1 visa:

1) The U.S. employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. This means that the foreign company and the entity in the U.S. should have a relationship such as parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate, and the U.S. entity and foreign company should share common ownership and control.

2) The U.S. company should be doing business in the United States;

3) The employee must have been working for the foreign company for one continuous year out of the preceding three years, by normally showing payroll records to prove it, and

4) The employee must be entering the United States to work at the U.S. company as a manager, executive or specialized worker.

Remember that even if a foreign company is opening a new office in the U.S., it is always the U.S. entity or employer that will actually apply for the L-1 visa.

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