General Information Regarding L-1 Visas
• To obtain an L1A visa, a foreign company has to open a new U.S. branch, affiliate or subsidiary that is owned primarily by the same people who owns the foreign company; or buy an existing company that is in a similar business as the foreign company. The "affiliated companies" may be offices of the same company, companies in a parent/subsidiary relationship, or affiliate companies with common ownership by a third company or individual or a group of individuals. The key factor in determining whether there is a proper relationship between the foreign company and its U.S. subsidiary is whether the same owners have "effective control" over both companies. Effective control does not necessarily mean 50% stock ownership; some stock ownership, even a relatively small percentage in a large company, and a substantial degree of managerial control can establish effective control.
• Once a U.S. subsidiary is created, the foreign company can "transfer" any "executive" or "manager" of the foreign company to its U.S. subsidiary. An "executive" or "manager" is someone who is in charge of the whole company, or a significant part of its operations (for example, sales or marketing). People with "specialized knowledge" necessary to open or operate the U.S. subsidiary can also transfer to the U.S., but these visas are harder to obtain.
• One major benefit of the L1A Visa is that the L1A foreign national can obtain a permanent residency "green card" once the U.S. subsidiary has existed and been profitable for one year. If the foreign company buys an existing U.S. company, the one year time period includes the years the U.S. company has been in business.
Evidence That the U.S. Company Is, or Will Be, an Established Business
This can be shown by providing the following information:
• The Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws for the U.S. company.
• Copies of share certificates showing ownership of corporations.
• A copy of the U.S. company's employer tax identification number.
• Evidence that the U.S. company has opened a bank account in the United States.
• Occupational licenses and other related permits.
• A copy of the lease/sublease for the U.S. company's office and/or warehouse space, and photographs (inside and outside) of this space.
• A copy of the U.S. company's business plan, if available.
• An organizational chart for the U.S. company that shows the management structure of the company (i.e., the job title, job description and expected salary of each current and anticipated employee).
• The company's latest financial statements and/or tax returns.
• Company brochures, product photographs, price sheets, etc. of goods traded with the U.S.
Evidence That the Overseas Company is engaged in "Substantial Trade" With the U.S.
This can be done by providing the following information:
• Invoices to show trade with the U.S.
• Canceled checks.
• Contracts, Bills of Sale, Bills of Lading, etc. showing a substantial amount of importing and exporting between the U.S. and treaty country.
• Evidence That the Foreign National's Duties Will Be
• Instrumental in Developing and Operating the U.S. Company
• A foreign national is not always required to have an active role in the day-to-day operation of a U.S. investment. However, it is always helpful to be able to show this will be the case.