Covid-19 has changed the rules for travel, engagement and employment. Many companies have started to reduce wages and put staff on leave, and some companies have reduced hours or terminated employees.

This situation can cause particular difficulties for people who are on L-1As for a new office given that this visa is only granted when the U.S. company has been operating for less than a year and the visa is only granted for one year. At the end of that year, the government generally expects the U.S. company to demonstrate that it has hired sufficient employees to prove that the person on the L-1A visa is only engaging in qualifying executive or managerial duties.

If you are on an L-1A visa for a new office and have been impacted by the Corona virus, there are some strategies you can use to try to renew or extend the visa even if the company has not been able to hire employees or has had to furlough or terminate some employees:

  • Request one additional year, rather than two or three: Normally after one year you can request an additional two or three years for the L-1A, however, if the company has had major setbacks and has not been able to hire employees, you could position the extension as another “new office” petition and argue that the L-1 status should be extended for 1 year to allow more time for you to build up the company’s operations.
  • Demonstrate that employees from the foreign company are performing non-executive tasks: If the U.S. company currently cannot support employees other than the L-1A executive, you can demonstrate that the executive is only performing qualifying duties by including information about the company abroad, such as organizational charts and position descriptions showing that there are sufficient staff members at the foreign company who are handling administrative tasks for the executive.
  • Utilize capital from the company abroad to maintain employees: If the foreign company has the resources to capitalize the U.S. company to allow it to hire employees, this would strengthen a renewal application, especially if the funds are utilized to pay U.S. employees who can support the work of the L-1 executive or manager.

You can find key immigration information related to the Corona Virus below

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