Intra-Corporate Transfers

The most frequently asked question in the field of immigration law is about the time required in order to obtain a visa. Delays are generally normal and expected. 

But since the United States has become a springboard to four continents, the requirements have considerably increased. Immigration officials can have a difficult time being up-to-date with their files.

This is the case of most U.S. immigration offices nationwide although the implementation of computer service has helped streamline their operation in recent years.
There is however a visa that one can obtain rather rapidly if one satisfies certain conditions. Are you the executive or manager of a foreign corporation, or do you have specialized knowledge? If this is the case, you may be able to qualify for the L1A visa.

This visa applies to the intracorporate transfer, which allows an American subsidiary, branch, parent, affiliate or joint venture to require the services of an employee of the foreign company in order to help develop the existing or new American company. It is a visa which is issued from one to three years initially.

It may be extended every year up to a maximum period of seven years, the latter two years being for cases of extreme emergency.
What are the advantages of this visa? First, a decision can be obtained relatively quickly, usually within a two month period if the parent company has existed for longer than one year and that the transferred person has been employed in the foreign company during at least one preceding year.

Then, if, after one year of employment in the U.S., this person wishes to become an American resident, he may apply without having to obtain a labor certification. The subsequent residency procedure can take up to three years.
Now what are some of the disadvantages? The parent company must continue its operations in the foreign country. This means that the company must have sufficient resources to continue operating outside of the United States and keep its employees, offices, tax reports and all the other ordinary expenses of an operating business. 

Today the restrictions for obtaining such a visa are such that generally large corporation can use it. The word “large” is open to interpretation depending on sales, profits and number of employees.
It is important to remember that the parent company must be real and not fictitious and must be able to demonstrate its operations. A foreign company created solely for visa purposes is not acceptable. However the creation of the foreign company as a subsidiary of the U.S. company is acceptable because the L1 visa will be issued as long as the company has the intention or has already taken preliminary steps to doing business in the American market.
The question one asks oneself most often on the subject of the L1 visa is the following: “In the case of the president of the parent company, can he be transferred to his American subsidiary?” The answer is yes. Let us take the case of a contractor who has a business in a foreign country.

His company abroad may have a federal or provincial charter. From now on he wishes to diversify his construction operations in America.

He will keep his company active in the foreign country and be sent by the head office in order to undertake the necessary procedures in for business development in America. In the case of a high level executive, his responsibilities will encompass contract negotiations, legal matters, establishing working relationships, accounting for reports to the foreign company and supervision of lower level executives and employees, although presumably not on a day-to-day basis, which is the function of a top manager.
What are the essential documents required in order to be eligible for an L1 visa? In addition to the forms provided by the Immigration Department (I-129L), it will be necessary to prove the existence and longevity of the foreign company as well as the American one by using articles of incorporation, financial statements and other.
Once the L1 visa has been approved it is necessary to complete consular procedures. With the stamp entered into your passport, the beneficiary presents it to the immigration officer at the border who will give you an I- 94 arrival/departure card. This small white form allows you to enter and leave the country at will during the complete period for which the visa is specified.
Most nationals must apply for the L-1 Visa stamp at the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country before entering the U.S. Although the Immigration Service may approve a petition within the U.S., the State Department (i.e. Consulate/Embassy) has the authority to deny issuance of the visa if they believe that your initial intent is to become an immigrant to the U.S. or if there are other local circumstances which may cloud your issuance.
The holder of this visa, since he or she is considered a non-immigrant, continues to pay taxes in his country of origin, even if he receives fees from the American corporation. However, it is preferable to consult an accountant specialized in tax laws of both countries.

In most circumstances, persons staying greater than three months in the U.S. may trigger U.S. tax consequences.

More information here:
How do I renew my Green Card or extend my Visa status?
L-1 Visa Intra-Company Transfer of Personnel