Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

Below are some key requirements you must fulfill to apply for an L-1 Visa. For each requirement, we have included forms of evidence that you may submit to meet the requirement and other tips to help you prepare your petition. 

 

 

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Requirement 1 - The petitioning U.S. entity must have a qualifying relationship with your entity abroad. 


The new U.S. office must have a corporate relationship with your foreign entity abroad where you have been employed as a manager, executive, or worker with specialized knowledge. This means that the new U.S. office must be a parent, affiliate, subsidiary or branch of the foreign entity, and that both the U.S. office and the foreign entity must continue to share common ownership and control. 

+ How do I demonstrate that my new business in the United States has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company? 

Some of the evidence you may submit to show that your new U.S. business has the requisite corporate relationship to your overseas employer includes:
  • Articles of incorporation showing common ownership of the U.S. and foreign entities
  • Business licenses or other documents showing common ownership of the U.S. entity
  • Annual reports describing the corporate structure
  • Contracts or other documents detailing the affiliate relationship
  • Corporate filings  in the United States or abroad describing the corporate relationship
  • Any other evidence demonstrating ownership and control over the U.S. and foreign entities (i.e., stock purchase agreements, voting rights agreements, capitalization table, term sheet)

Notes:

1) If you are filing as an affiliate, provide a detailed list of the owners of the foreign and U.S. companies, including the percentage of ownership, along with supporting documentation. An affiliate is defined as one of two subsidiaries owned and controlled by the same parent or individual, or the same group of individuals, each owning and controlling the same share or proportion of each entity.

2) If you are filing as a subsidiary, provide a detailed list of the owners of the foreign and U.S. companies, including the percentage of ownership, along with supporting documentation.  A subsidiary is an entity of which a parent:

  • Owns, directly or indirectly, more than half the entity and controls the entity, or
  • Owns, directly or indirectly, half the entity and controls the entity, or
  • Owns, directly or indirectly, 50 percent of a 50-50 joint venture and has equal control and veto power over the entity, or
  • Owns, directly or indirectly, less than half of the entity, but in fact controls the entity

3) If you are purchasing an existing business, provide a copy of your stock purchase agreement and/or any other relevant documentation.

+ How do I demonstrate that I have worked the required amount of time abroad? 

Some of the evidence you may submit to document your overseas employment for 1 out of the last 3 years includes:

  • Pay stubs
  • Payroll records
  • Tax returns that show employment
  • Evidence of work product

+ How do I show that my overseas employment was in a qualifying capacity? 

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that your overseas employment was in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge capacity includes: 
  • Organization charts showing your position
  • Patents or other evidence of the company’s technology, products or services that are based on your work
  • Performance reviews
  • Loans/financing on behalf of the company
  • Organizational job descriptions for your position and those positions that reported above and/or below you, if applicable
  • Resume describing your job accomplishments

Note: There is no requirement that an employee’s specialized knowledge be “unique” or “proprietary” in nature. Further, although there is no U.S. labor market test required before a person may be admitted as an L-1 specialized knowledge employee, your knowledge must be “special” or of an “advanced” level.


Requirement 2 - Sufficient physical space must be secured for a new office.



While the amount of physical space may vary depending on the nature of the business, an appropriate space must be secured through lease, purchase or other means. 

+ How do I prove that the new U.S. office has sufficient space to do business?

When filing for the purpose of opening a new office in the United States, some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate sufficient physical space for the new U.S. office to do business includes:
  • Signed lease agreement
  • Mortgages or other proof of real estate purchase
  • Business plan, marketing materials, or other descriptions of the business connecting the activity of the business with the space acquired

Notes:

1) If you have secured office space through means other than a lease or purchase (e.g., through an incubator), you will need to specifically explain the type of space you have secured and provide additional evidence to establish your eligibility (e.g. an agreement or other documentary evidence from the incubator confirming your new office will be operating from the incubator space).

2) If you are filing for a new office, provide a copy of a business plan or executive summary that shows the size of the U.S. investment and your ability to commence doing business in the United States.

3) In addition to evidence showing you have secured a physical premise, explain how this location is sufficient for your business.

 


Requirement 3 - A new office must be active and operating within one year after the L-1’s admission to the United States if requesting an extension of stay. 


The “new office” L-1 visa is meant to facilitate a “ramp up” period for a new U.S. office of a foreign entity. This period is limited to one year. After that time, an extension of the L-1 visa is available if the new office meets this requirement. What makes an office active and operating will differ depending on the nature of the business. Typically it will involve factors such as hiring additional employees, fulfillment of contract orders, having a revenue stream, or holding inventory, if applicable


Requirement 4 - After 1 year the new office must support a managerial or executive position if you are requesting an extension of stay in the L-1A classification. 


While a new office may be opened on an L-1 visa by someone working within your organization in a managerial, executive or specialized-knowledge capacity, after one year the office must be sufficiently active to support a manager or executive. During the first year ramp up, a manager or executive may be required, as a practical matter, to engage in many “hands-on” tasks that go beyond inherently managerial or executive tasks. After the first year, however, the manager or executive will be required to focus primarily on  managerial or executive tasks in order to obtain an extension of the L-1 visa.    

+ After one year, how do I demonstrate that the new office is fully functioning and that it will support my role as a manger or executive?

Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that the new office is fully functioning includes:
  • Purchase orders, contracts or other evidence of commercial activity
  • Payroll records for employees hired
  • Bank statements
  • Financial reporting documents showing monthly income
  • Continued venture capital or other third party investment contribution based on achieved milestones
  • Media coverage of the busines
  • Position descriptions providing the roles and responsibilities of all current employees, or other evidence which clearly demonstrates how the manager or executive is relieved of non-qualifying duties

 

I’m ready to apply, what’s next?

 

Once you have determined that the L-1 visa classification is the best pathway for you and you are ready to apply, you can find the full application process and legal requirements for an executive or manager and for a specialized-knowledge worker outlined on  USCIS’s website.

 

Notes:

1) The spouses of L-1 nonimmigrants are authorized to engage in employment, upon application to USCIS and receipt of an employment authorization document (EAD).

2)  When submitting evidence to USCIS, it is important to fully and clearly explain how the submitted evidence establishes eligibility for petition approval. The more clearly the petitioner can articulate his or her eligibility, the more efficiently and consistently USCIS can review and process the petition and determine eligibility for the benefit sought.

 

 

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