Understanding the L-1 Intra-Corporate Visa
How many times have you listened to advice by people who, in good faith, wanted to help you but misled you in trying to obtain a visa or work permit to the United States?
We will show you that it is not necessary to be misled by utilizing the typical example of an L 1 visa, intracorporate transfer, favoring companies, associations, and all other legal entities which are constituted in a country other than the United States and who establish ties with the U.S..
A foreign general contractor who had been in his business for a long time, decided to settle in the United States, following a slowdown of the market in his home country.
After obtaining his visa, his company must continue to function abroad for a reasonable period of time, that is to say that no matter what its charter (federal or provincial) it must continue its activities.
On arrival to the United States, this entrepreneur creates a company having the same (or similar) functions as the foreign company, which becomes the parent company; as long as the operations of this new company are not illegal he will be able to constitute it and to manage it.
Since, however, he has interests both abroad and in the United States, he will have to travel often and the L 1 visa applied for by the foreign company to transfer him to the parent company in the U.S. will allow him to do so at will. Moreover he will have the possibility of living more than 183 consecutive days per year in the U.S..
This limit is imposed on non-Americans (special attention should be paid to the tax aspect of this situation since you may involuntarily become a tax resident of the United States by the duration and status of your stay in America).
This visa is valid for a period of one to three years with a possibility for renewal up to seven years. Consequently, if the presence of this applicant is necessary for the management of the American company he will be able to stay in the United States in order to work. He will not however be able to work for another company.
If at the end of the first year (or any time thereafter) he decides to become a permanent resident of the United States and that the U.S. operation is proved viable he will, thanks to his multinational executive or managerial status, be able to have his status changed from non-immigrant to immigrant.
The waiting period is approximately three years unless that person has exceptional talents.
He will be able to continue working for the company during that period.
The L 1 visa applications are prepared in the intended jurisdiction of operations then sent to the Regional Adjudication Center for INS analysis. One must allow approximately six months in order to obtain approval.
That is the time required in order to complete a file and have it studied. If the individual is in the United States, his tourist visa can be changed to an L-1 visa. If he is abroad, his visa is sent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to the embassy or to the consulate of the city in which the parent company is established. In some countries, approval of the request is sent to a designated point of entry.
Our entrepreneur, enthusiastic as he is, worries because the company has not made any profits in the past year and has not declared them. He must know that the immigration department is interested in knowing about profits of the foreign company its sales and the number of employees. In order to satisfy its requirements, the foreign company must have generated a ‘respectable’ sales figure of over $150,000.
NOTE: The word “residence” has several implications as far as foreign and American laws are concerned. by coming to the United States initially with an L-1 visa, a person is considered to be non-resident by the immigration department. however if that person establishes sufficient links with the American community (purchase of a house, children in an American school, sale of assets abroad) it is then possible for that person to become an American “resident” for tax purposes.