L-1's and Foreign Startups
L-1 visas are temporary, non-immigrant visas which allow companies to transfer overseas qualified employees to their U.S. parent or subsidiary companies. Qualified employees are required to have worked for a parent, subsidiary, or branch office of their employing company for at minimum period of 1 year in the previous 3 years. The U.S. company in question is required to be a parent company to the overseas company. The L-1 visa also applies to religious, non-profit, or organizations who call themselves charities.
Using the L-1 visa category is a smart route for smaller or start-up foreign companies to extend their businesses and related services to the U.S.A. It is beneficial for smaller companies as it permits the transferring of a proficient executive or manager who has accumulated practical knowledge of its company’s operations. This means a start-up company which is setting up a branch or subsidiary in the U.S. can be rest assured that the company will operate in relation to its aims and goals as the L-1 visa holder knows which direction the company has planned and how the objectives are to be put into place.
The United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) does not let all potential managers and executives of start up businesses to transfer on an L1 visa petition to the country but it will carry out extensive evaluations of new companies that are not well known in the international business community. Whatever the case may be, the L-1 visa category is specifically designed to facilitate the needs of intra-company transfers by companies.
Both L-1A and L-1B visas are available for foreign start up businesses
There are two categories of visa available for consideration by foreign start-ups who wish to send their expertise to the U.S.A. to facilitate setting up a parent, subsidiary or branch office of their company.
L-1A visas are set aside for those workers who have substantial executive and managerial experience which cannot be accessed in the U.S. An L-1A applicant should have worked for the petitioning company for 12 months in the previous 3 years in the capacity of an executive or manager.
The securing of an L-1A visa for an experienced worker gives a company the opportunity to start up a new company office in the US whether it’s a new start up company overseas or an polder more established company. An L-1A visa is offered for 1 year to begin with for a company which is new to the U.S.A. or 3 years for a company which has been in existence in the U.S. for more than a year. Extensions are available which last for 2 years and are further extendable up to 7 years.
L1-B visas are designated for employees who have specialized knowledge and are professionals. These personnel are expected to have very specific and detailed knowledge of the start-up company’s product which they are expected to transfer to U.S. employees of the company. L1-B visas are issued for 3 years to begin with followed by 2 year extensions up to a maximum of 5 years.
For both visas, both the U.S. based company and the overseas company are expected to have a direct relationship in the form of a subsidiary or parent or as an affiliate.