L-1 Visas for the Food Service Industry
What is referred to as the intra-company transferee visa (L-1) is designed for employees who work for multi-national companies and who are offered a transfer to a branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliated company that exists in the U.S.A.
The L-1 can be used for transferring a manager or an executive who has been employed in a similar position for a continuous period of one year in the last three years in the overseas company that meets the qualifications for transferring an employee using an L-1A visa. A second type of transfer is for an employee who has substantial specialized knowledge of the overseas company’s product, services and procedures which he or she can pass on to the U.S. company. This visa category is the L-1B.
L-1 visas can be used for food service employees
There are not many industries that have the characteristics of the food service industry and its international flavor. Restaurant chains known worldwide are constantly seeking out ways of expanding and improving their image moving into tourist centers and travel destinations worldwide. Many people who go on vacation abroad are only too happy to see familiar chain restaurants names such as Starbucks, Subway, McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s. In the heart of these restaurants there are employees both at the director/managerial and specialist knowledge levels that could help to enhance their parent companies in the U.S.
The way that an overseas parent company can help to improve the competitiveness and financial rewards of the U.S. company is by sending its brightest and best to the U.S. to transfer knowledge.
When specific prerequisites are met, employees from the international office of a food service company can be transferred to a U.S. office relatively easily, due to the existence of the L-1 intra-company transfer visa.
So that an intra company employee can transfer and meet the qualifications for an L-1 visa, a relationship that qualifies must be established to begin with between the U.S. office and the entity abroad. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), states that the office abroad has to be a recognized affiliate, branch, parent company, subsidiary or joint venture of the U.S. entity. Given the globalization of the food service industry, fulfilling this requirement would not present too many difficulties.
A popular Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao, recently won an important L-1B specialized knowledge victory in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. At issue was whether native, Brazilian-trained churrosqueiros, or chefs trained in preparing and presenting meals in the signature churrasco style, constituted "specialized knowledge" for L-1B purposes. The court found that the government's conclusory and categorical refusal to find churrosqueiros possessed "specialized knowledge" was improper, and that a petitioning restaurant ought to be able to show that specialized chefs can indeed possess that level of specialized knowledge to qualify for an L-1B.
No cap on numbers for L-1 visa categories
Typically, what makes an L-1 visa particularly attractive is that there is no yearly cap on numbers for this category of visa. Furthermore, an L-1 visa is issued for a period of 3 years initially and can then be extended for two years at a time for a maximum of 7 years for an L-1A and five years for an L-1B.
An L-1 visa can be used legally as a means of obtaining a green card due to its dual intent feature. Spouses and children under 21 years who are unmarried can accompany the main worker by taking an L-2 status visa and L-2 spouses can take up employment in the U.S.A.