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During the L-1 visa application process, you may be required to submit a business plan to the immigration authorities. In this guide, we’ll be covering all of the basics for creating a comprehensive document that checks every box.

What is an L‑1 Visa?

The L‑1 visa was created to give businesses a way to transfer employees from foreign offices to one of its American offices, often as a way to expand into a new market. This is known as an intra-company transfer.

Depending on the transferee’s status within the company, the employer will either be looking to obtain an L‑1A visa (executive or manager) or an L‑1B visa (employee with specialized knowledge related to the organization). It is the employer’s responsibility to submit the visa application, as opposed to the employee.

// Time spent abroad may be recaptured if the transferee does not live full time in the United States.

The L-1A visa can be a very good path to permanent immigration (green card). Before accessing permanent residency, the maximum period of time the transferee can stay in the United States is capped at 7 years for an L-1A and 5 years for an L-1B. Time spent abroad may be recaptured if the transferee does not live full time in the United States. Also, if the transferee has previously worked in the United States under an H-class visa, the duration of their previous stay may be deducted from their authorized period of stay under an L-1 visa, unless the transferee spends a full period of 12 months abroad between visa categories.

If a foreign national is being sent to the US to establish a new office, they will be granted an initial stay of up to 1 year. It is normally under the L‑1A category under a Managing position.

Please note that the time spent outside of the US while under the L‑1A or L‑1B can be added up at the end of the authorized period. This is particularly useful for intermittent managers traveling back and forth between both qualifying entities.

L-1 Visa Supporting Documents

The following documents will need to be included with the L-1 visa application:
  • Current passport data-page of the main applicant, and, if applicable, his or her dependents
  • Government forms, and payment of the processing fees
  • Invitation letter (original and copy) from the US entity requiring the services of the foreign worker
  • For skilled worker: certificates of training and degrees showing their specialization, and Work Reference letter.
  • For managers: internal chart showing their position and name, and payroll summaries of the employees under the Manager
  • Updated resume for the main applicant
  • Bank statements of the last 6 months from the foreign entity, and, if available, the US entity
  • Most recent validated financial statements of the foreign entity, and, if available, the US entity
  • Organizational chart showing the business relationship between both foreign and US entities, with a certified letter from the corporate lawyer or accountant of the company attesting of the qualifying business relationship between both entities
  • Commercial lease, and photos, if available.
In addition, the following proof will be required:
  • Proof that the business relationship is legitimate, i.e. that the foreign and American operations are directly related. This can be demonstrated by documents such as articles of incorporation, business licenses, shareholding certificate showing the ownership, and corporate filings.
  • Proof that the business is “active and operating.” A wide variety of documents can serve as proof for this category forms, including but not limited to sales or inventory reports, payroll reports, financial statements, vendor contracts, etc.
  • Proof that the transferee has been employed by the company for at least one year out of the past three years. This can be demonstrated using documents such as pay stubs, payroll records, and tax files.
  • Proof that the employee occupies one of the authorized positions for this visa (L-1A or L-1B) such as work reference letter, diploma, and internal chart showing name and job position, employee payroll, email showing the managing position, etc.

What is an L-1 Visa Business Plan?

While a business plan is not technically required to apply for an L-1 visa, it is an excellent way to prove that the company in question is legitimate and the employee transfer is necessary. Here is what an airtight business plan should include.

About the company

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants to know who they are dealing with. A full executive summary, including as many details as possible, is a must. Cover all of the basics: founding date, ownership, industry, office locations, target markets, current employee count… the more information, the better.

Explain whether the US operation is already active, or if the employee in question will be assisting with the startup process during their first year. Detail what the parent company does, and what the US-based office is intended to accomplish (or currently does). Also explain how the two offices will relate to each other: for example, is the US-based location a parent office, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of a foreign parent company?

Company structure

Your plan should include financial projections over five years (balance sheet, profit and loss statement, etc.) that not only highlight the company’s current stability, but its ability to successfully maintain its operations for years to come. Also include a personnel and employee expansion plan, with each employee’s proposed annual salary and educational requirements, as well as a marketing plan that explains the company’s digital and social media strategy.

Market and industry analysis

You must demonstrate an understanding not only of your current market and industry, but also how your business fits into the American market, and how the company plans to grow and adapt to anticipated industry changes. Combined with a competitor analysis, this section will prove that you are fit to conduct business in both markets, and understand the business contexts in which you will be operating.

A little professional guidance goes a long way

When creating an L-1 visa business plan, there is no room for error. Stack the odds in your favour by contacting Exeo: our seasoned attorneys will help you put together a comprehensive L-1 application that leaves no stone unturned.

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