What is an L Visa & How Can I Use One To Start A Business In The U.S.?

An L-1 visa is a good option for a foreign company that that seeks to send an employee to work at an existing U.S. company. An L visa is also a good option for a foreign company trying to send an employee to open a new office in the United States.  The employee must have a particular set of skills and either be a manager/executive or have particular specialized knowledge.  In the past, L visas were relatively easy to get approved but the past few years have seen a rampant increase in Requests for Evidence (RFE’s) and denials of L petitions. This is particularly the case for applicants applying under the specialized knowledge category or those seeking to extend a visa that was granted for a new office. The relatively new scrutiny makes an L visa an extremely document intensive visa that must be navigated carefully.

There are four main requirements to obtain an L visa outlined below. Remember that even if a foreign company is opening a new office in the U.S., it is always the U.S. entity or employer that will actually apply for the L visa.

  1. The U.S. employer must have a “qualifying relationship” with a foreign company. This means that the foreign company and the entity in the U.S. have a relationship such as parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate and the U.S. entity and foreign company share common ownership and control.
  2. The company must be doing business in the United States and at least one foreign country, either directly or through a company with a qualifying relationship to the U.S. employer (parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate).
  3. The employee must have been working for the foreign company for one continuous year out of the preceding three years (normally you show payroll records to prove this) and
  4. The employee must be entering the United States to work at the U.S. company as a manager, executive or specialized worker.

Types of L Visas

There are two types of L-1 visas, corresponding to different job functions.

 L-1A Visa

The first type of visa is the L-1A, which is used for managers and executives who are responsible for running the business and managing professional workers, among other things. The Code of Federal Regulations provides strict definitions of “managers” and “executives” and the visa application must include a detailed job description as evidence that the executive or manager has the authority to plan, direct, supervise and control the company’s main functions.  While beneficial, managers need not supervise employees necessarily and can manage functions or processes instead.  That being said, the case for managing employees is much easier to document.

L-1B Visa

The second type of visa is the L-1B, which is appropriate for workers who possess special knowledge of an organization’s product, services, research techniques or policies and procedures. A specialized knowledge worker refers to someone who is a key member of the organization and has proprietary knowledge that can only be gained through experience with that particular employer. An example of specialized knowledge is knowledge of an exclusive software owned solely by the company or any other knowledge that has an impact on the competitiveness of the business.

New Offices

If a foreign company wants to establish a new office in the U.S., they may create a U.S. business entity and then apply for an L-1A visa to send an executive or manager to run the new U.S. office. When a new office is being established, the employer must submit additional evidence in the L visa application.  Namely, the employer must show that they have obtained physical office space and that the business is going to be profitable such that it can support the new employee brought to start the operations. Normally a business plan is submitted with this application in addition to the lease agreement for the premises obtained.  While obtaining an approval for a new office L visa is manageable, the visa is only issued for one year and getting an extension is difficult. Normally you must show significant growth in the first year in order to get an extension and you should have hired a number of employees.

Timing & Cost

The L-1A visa can be extended for a maximum period of 7 years, while an L-1B visa can be extended for a maximum period of 5 years. For managers, executives and specialized knowledge workers transferring to an established company in the U.S., the L-1 visa will be granted for an initial period of 3 years and then can be extended in 2 year increments. However, executives and managers who are being transferred to start a new office in the U.S. will only be granted an L visa for an initial period of 1 year.  As noted above, it is quite difficult to get an extension after one year if your company has not experienced significant growth.

L visas are all processed by USCIS and after the approval notice is obtained, the employee must get a visa in his/her own country.  To file an L petition, you must pay a $325 filing fee plus a number of additional filing fees. (eg. Possibly Premium processing & Fraud Prevention fees).  Remember that when you submit documents to USCIS, they must be translated and include the appropriate translation declarations.

Should I get an E-2 Visa or an L Visa?

The analysis of which visa is appropriate for a particular candidate depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. That being said, as long as an applicant is from a Treaty Country and can show the “significant investment” that is required for an E-2 visa (usually not less than $50,000) an E visa provides good flexibility.  For example, the E-2 visa can be issued for 5 years and the filing fees are substantially less than for L visas.  (See above)  Also, given the increased scrutiny associated with L visas, E visas are often selected over L visas.  As India and China are not treaty country members, many of the L visas that we process are from nationals of those two countries.  One benefit of an L Visa though is that it is a dual intent visa so it is easier to apply for a green card while on an L Visa.

Can I Bring My Family?

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may apply for an L-2 classification, which allows them to stay in the U.S. for the duration of the L-1 visa holder’s stay. Spouses of the L-1 visa holder may apply for work authorization, which will allow them to work anywhere in the U.S. and unmarried children under 21 will be able to attend school.

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For more practical or legal advice contact Scott Legal, P.C.. We offer services in a number of business areas including, Immigration, New Business set up, Contract review and development and entrepreneurial support. Call 212-223-2964212-223-2964 or email Kelly Weiner at kweiner@legalservicesincorporated.com for a consultation.  Ms. Weiner is an associate in our New York office that focuses on immigration law.  Ms. Weiner can be reached by calling 212-223-2964212-223-2964.

2 Comments

  1. Shujauddin Munshi November 15, 2014 3:38 pm

    Dear Madam

    I am Electrical Engineer presently I am working with ABB Electrical Industries Company Ltd Saudi Arabia as After Sale Service Manager in Power Products Medium Voltage Switchgear Department. I have join ABB since 1994 and performing my duties with successfully till to date .

    Kindly let me know which visa process will be suitable for I can send you all my particulars.

    Please send me your response to my ABB e-mail address

    Thanks for your valuable invitation and appreciated.

    Thanks &

    Best/regards

    Shujauddin Munshi
    After Sales Service Manager

    ABB Electrical Industrial Co. Ltd.
    Phone: +966 1 265 3030 Ext.1383
    Telefax: +966 1 265 1211
    Mobile: 00966 506233432
    email: shujauddin.munshi@sa.abb.com

    Kindly find the below my C.V

    SHUJAUDDIN MUNSHI
    CURRICULUM VITAE
    _________________________________________________________________
    ADDRESS ABB ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES LTD CO.
    P.O.Box 251, Riyadh 11383, Saudi Arabia.
    OFFICE CONTACT # 009661-2653030 Ext 1383
    RES PHONE # 009661-4642603
    MOBILE # 00966506233432
    E-MAIL shujauddin.munshi@sa.abb.com
    Shuja621@hotmail.com

    ADDRES IN PAKISTAN Banglow # R-29 Block # 13D/1 KDA
    Scheme # 24 Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi
    DATE & PLACE OF BRITH 03-March-1962 Karachi Pakistan

    CAREER OBJECTIVE
    To be part of a growth oriented organization where I can apply my technical managerial knowledge and gained experience at various academic and professional places to mutually benefit for organization and for self.
    WORK EXPERRIENCE IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES.

    1) ABB ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES LTD COMPANY. RIYADH SAUDI ARABIA.

    2) MC-DERMOTT AMERICAN “ON SHORE” “OFF SHORE” COMPANY DUBAI.
    ________________________________________________________________________________
    PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE SUMMARY IN ABB ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES SAUDI ARABIA
    • Presently I am working as After Sale Manager for Medium Voltage Power Products with (ABB Electrical Industries Company Ltd Saudi Arabia)

    • Promoted as Senior Project Engineer for Medium Voltage Switchgear Engineering.(ABB Saudi Arabia) in year of January 2007 up- to December 2009

    • Promoted as Technical Support and After Sales Service Engineer in year of July 2003 up-to December/2006

    • I have join as Testing/Commissioning of Electrical Power Products , Protection Relays & Control. In ABB Electrical Industries Company Ltd Saudi Arabia from 16 June/1994 up-to 2003

    PROFESSIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE WITH
    ABB ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES LTD., RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA January ‘2010 – till to Date
    A) AFTER SALE MANAGER IN POWER PRODUCTS MEDIUM VOLATGE DEPARTMENT

    Promoted as After Sale Manager in Power Products Medium Voltage Department & Medium Voltage Switchgear Power Technology Department ABB Electrical Industries Ltd., Riyadh Saudi Arabia Branch.
    (http://www.abb.com)

    Technical Role and Responsibilities:

    • After Sales Customer Technical Support with the Medium Voltage Power Products.
    • Projects site comments to attend by assigning the within the department’s Technician & Engineers.
    • Corresponding with ABB venders & suppliers for technical clarification of the Medium Voltage Products.
    • Customer record in CCRP (Customer Complaints Resolution Process) data base for Medium Voltage Products warrantee period.

    ABB ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES LTD., RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA January ‘2007 – up to- December 2009
    B) SENIOR PROJECT ENGINEER IN POWER PRODUCTS MEDIUM VOLATGE DEPARTMENT

    I have worked as Senior Project Engineer in the Medium Voltage Switchgear Power Technology Department of ABB Electrical Industries Ltd., Riyadh Saudi Arabia Branch.
    I have ABB PMP Certification.
    (http://www.abb.com)

    Technical Role and Responsibilities:

    • After the receiving the project documents from front & Sales, study the projects terms & condition, coordinate with proposal & design as well as supply management.
    • Corresponding with vender suppliers for technical clarification of the products.
    • Project execution as per project specification and contractual terms and conditions.
    • Keeping the close coordination between all concerned of the project either side.
    • Project budget control in all aspect in order to maintain the profitability.

    ABB ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES LTD., RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA July ‘2003 – December ‘2006
    C) CUSTOMER TECHNICAL SUPPORT AND AFTER SALES SERVICE ENGINEER

    I have worked in the capacity of Customer Technical Support and After Sales Service Engineer in the Medium Voltage Switchgear Power Technology Department of ABB Electrical Industries Ltd., Riyadh Saudi Arabia Branch. (http://www.abb.com).

    Technical Role and Responsibilities:

    • After Sales Customer Technical Support.
    • Projects site comments to attend by assigning the within the department’s Technician & Engineers.
    • Corresponding with vender suppliers for technical clarification of the products.

    Handled & Managed Various Projects
    I have handled & managed various projects for site Testing & Pre-Commissioning activity carried out with the professionals’ team site Technician, Supervisors, and Commissioning Engineers. Worked with yearly budget of 30 million Saudi-Riyals for site Testing & Pre-Commissioning projects.
    The various projects were commissioned and handle as listed below.
    A) Shoaiba Power Plant: Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
    B) Quaiza 132kV/13.8kV sub-station: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
    C) Hail Water Treatment Plant: Hail, Saudi Arabia.
    D) Saudi Aramco Desalination Plant Harad: Harad, Saudi Arabia.
    E) Petro Kemiya Plant: Sabic Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
    F) Various Saudi Electricity projects handled: Riyadh Central region, Dammam
    Eastern region, Jeddah Western region
    G) J.RAY Mc-DERMOTT: ON Shore/ OFF Shore oil field Jebel Ali
    Dubai.
    Responsibility

    I was responsible for site Testing & Pre-Commissioning activity, co-ordination with the customer for site witnessed, organizing the site commissioning schedule, clearing the customer comments, and final commissioning acceptance test.

    Reported to

    After the commissioned the projects, all the projects site report customer acceptance certificates are handing over to Field Commissioning Manager.
    I held this position until July 30, 2003.

    ABB ELECTRICAL INDUSTRIES LTD., RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA June ‘1994 – June 2003
    D)TESTING and COMMISSIONING ENGINEER IN POWER PRODUCTS MEDIUM VOLATGE DEPARTMENT

    I have worked in the capacity of Testing and Commissioning Engineer for Power Products Medium Voltage Switchgear Department in the ABB Electrical Industries Ltd., Riyadh Saudi Arabia Branch. (http://www.abb.com).

    Technical Role and Responsibilities:

    • Testing & Commissioning of 13.8kV/33kVSwitchgear.
    • Work involved testing of typical control and protection circuits.
    • Power Frequency test, insulation test.
    • Testing of Network Protection and control scheme.
    • Testing of various electrical components used in the switchgear.
    • Testing of LV switchgear, Ring Main Units, Compact Substations.
    • Mobile Substation with capacity 5, 10, 20MVA 69kV/13.8kV.
    • Trouble shooting during erection, Testing & Commissioning of various projects.
    • Customer Inspection and Type Test witnessing.
    • Preparation and study the test results as per IEC regulation.
    • Quality Control check according to QA regulation for Metering, Control and Protection. Components used in switchgears.
    • Testing & Commissioning of substation 13.8kV/0.480kV
    • 33kV/13.8kV.

    SHEBBA MARINE PANAMA MV SHIP DUKE OF SA Oct, 1992 20-03-1994
    E) ELECTRICAL ENGINEER

    Technical Role and Responsibilities:

    • Marine navigation equipments.
    • Low Voltage Motor Control and AC/DC Distribution systems.
    • Generator Protection relays, Synchronizing unit, Load control and
    • Load sharing systems.
    • DC Control Devices for DC Motors.

    MC DERMOTT DUBAI AMERICAN ON SHORE OFFSHORE COMPANY Jan 1992 – Aug 1992
    F) ELECTRICAL SUPERVISOR

    Technical Role and Responsibilities:

    • Installation & commissioning ON SHORE OFF SHORE
    • Substation’s Electrical work.

    ANSALDO ITALIAN COMPANY (PAKISTAN K.E.S.C. BIN QASIM THARMAL POWER STATION 210 MW TWO UINTS) April 1989- Feb 1991
    G) ELECTRICAL COMMISSIONING SUPERVISOR

    Technical Role and Responsibilities:
    Electrical Commissioning Supervisor
    Commissioned following systems.
    1. H&B Logic Control system.
    2. GSX5C Generator Protection system by ABB.
    3. M.N.S. Change over system by ABB.
    4. Cathodic Protection system by Wilson Walton.
    5. 6.6KV Switchgears system by Magrini Italia
    6. Power Control & Motor Control Center by BBC Italia.
    7. Protection Relays.
    8. Hydrogen generation plant.
    9. DC System of 24V, 48V, and 220V.
    10. 220 KV, SF6 Switchgears auxiliary and Control.
    System by HITACHI JAPAN.

    SIEMENS PAKISTAN ENGINEERING COMPANY Jan 1986 – April 1989
    H) ELECTRICAL SUPERVISOR
    Technical Role and Responsibilities:

    I have worked on various Projects with Siemens Pakistan in capacity of Electrical Supervisor following are the project brief description.

    h.1) GAS TURBINE POWER STATION 100 X 2 MW KOT ADDU
    Commissioning of 6.6 KV Switchgear.
    Commissioning of Generator Protection Relays by Siemens Germany.

    h.2) BELA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES WINDER BALUCHITAN
    Commissioning of 6.6 KV Switchgear by Siemens Germany.

    h.3) SIEMENS PAKISTAN SITE KARACHI HIGH VOLTAGE TEST FIELD LAB
    Commissioning of High Voltage test field for Power Transformer High Voltage
    Test up to 400 KV Impulse Generator Test up to 1200 KV Indus Voltage Test.

    EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

    Electrical Engineer Degree: from Penn Foster USA.
    Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree: from Preston University Karachi Pakistan as Private Student.

    PROFESSIONAL TRAINING:
    TECHNICAL SEMENARS AND COURESES

    A) I have attended 1 day Seminar for AVO International
    In Electrical Test & Measuring Equipments.

    B) 5 Days Training course in Protective
    Relays Application from ACTRAIN
    The course was content as listed below.
    • Phases and polarity.
    • Short Circuit Review.
    • Relay Coordination Basics.
    • Basic Circuit Arrangement and Relay types.
    • Current and Potential Transformers.
    • Grounding and Symmetrical components.
    • Feeder Protection.
    • Transformer Protection.
    • Motor Protection.
    • Generator Protection.
    • Plant Utility Tie Circuit Protection.
    • Bus Bar Protection.
    • Capacitor Protection.
    • Time Current Characteristic Curves.

    C) I have taken 2 days course in Technical Report
    Writing from MCE.

    D) 4 Days Training Course for Programming and
    Configuration of REF 542 Relay Instructors from
    ABB Germany.

    E) 5 Days Training Program in Power System
    Protection by ABB University Switzerland.
    The course was content as listed below.

    • Fault and disturbances.
    • Requirements for Protection and Substation.
    • Automation.
    • Current and Voltage Transformers.
    • Line Protection.
    • Bus Bar Protection.
    • Generator Protection.
    • Products.
    • Motor Protection.

    PROTECTION RELAYS

    The following listed ABB Protection relays
    tested during Testing/Commissioning period.

    1) Transformer Diff. relays : RADSB, SPAD330
    2) Bus bar Differential relays : RADHA, RADSS
    3) Over current relay : RACID, MCGG, SPAJ140
    4) Auto reclosuer relay : REXA103, RACIB
    5) Directional relay : REL010, RXPE, and METI
    6) Breaker failure relay : RAICA, RAICC, and MCTI
    7) Pilot wire protection. Relay : H04, MBCI
    8) Motor protection relay : SPAM150
    9) Under voltage relay : SPAU130
    10) Annunciator : SACO16.3D

    The below listed equipments were handled during the site Substation’s Commissioning
    works.

    A. Secondary Injection Relays and Metering Components Testing Sets.

    B. Injection test sets, Severker 750/650.

    C. Freja R.T.S.11, R.T.S.21, R.T.S.300 Computerized secondary Current & Voltage Injection
    Testing sets.

    D. Power & Control Test bench.

    E. Meg Curve Test set

    F. Circuit Breaker Timing Test set (Programa)

    G. The Primary Testing Equipments
    Power frequency test set.
    2kV.Test set, Peak Voltmeter set.
    Primary Current Injection Test set.
    Contact Resistance Test set.

    Shujauddin Munshi
    After Sales Service Manager

    ABB Electrical Industrial Co. Ltd.
    Phone: +966 1 265 3030 Ext.1383
    Telefax: +966 1 265 1211
    Mobile: 00966 506233432
    email: shujauddin.munshi@sa.abb.com

    ———————————————————————————————–
    Should I get an E-2 Visa or an L Visa?

    The analysis of which visa is appropriate for a particular candidate depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. That being said, as long as an applicant is from a Treaty Country and can show the “significant investment” that is required for an E-2 visa (usually not less than $50,000) an E visa provides good flexibility. For example, the E-2 visa can be issued for 5 years and the filing fees are substantially less than for L visas. (See above) Also, given the increased scrutiny associated with L visas, E visas are often selected over L visas. As India and China are not treaty country members, many of the L visas that we process are from nationals of those two countries. One benefit of an L Visa though is that it is a dual intent visa so it is easier to apply for a green card while on an L Visa.

    Reply
    • IanScott November 16, 2014 5:49 pm

      Thank you very much for contacting us and we welcome the opportunity to help you with your legal needs.

      At your earliest convenience, we would be happy to offer you a consultation with one of our lawyers. If after the consultation you decide to hire us to work on your matter, our $250 one hour consultation fee will be waived and the amount will be applied towards your future bill. (As such, the consultation would be free).

      In order to protect and be fair to you, our current clients and the firm, we only offer legal advice after an attorney-client relationship has been established. While some legal questions appear straight forward, a proper answer requires a review of the facts and circumstances as well as an application of legal knowledge. Moreover, almost all questions require follow up and additional analysis that is best done during a consultation.

      We look forward to working with you and please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation.​

      Kind regards,

      Reply

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