I want to sponsor an employee for an L-1 visa. Does my company need a business plan?
Yes, generally all L-1 visa petitions should include a business plan for the U.S. company. However, the importance of the business plan may vary, depending on the size of the company and whether the petition is for a new office. A business plan is vitally important to your visa application if you have a small company or are trying to open a new office in the United States. Large, multinational corporations should still include a business plan in their individual petitions, but overall the business plan may not be as significant as it is for smaller companies and new office petitions.
What topics should I cover in my business plan?
Among other things, an immigration-compliant business plan for an L-1 visa should contain a description of the business, a comprehensive market analysis, a sales and marketing plan, detailed description of personnel, hiring timetable and financial data for 5 years (Projected revenue, Profit & Loss, cash flow, etc). Matter of Ho, a case decided by the Immigration Appeals Board, provides some insights about what will be considered an immigration-compliant business plan for an EB-5 visa and many of these key requirements can be directly applied to the L-1 business plan. For a detailed explanation of the specific business plan requirements listed in Matter of Ho, please click here.
Are there any specific topics I should focus on in an L-1 business plan?
Yes! Although the requirements for a business plan as described in Matter of Ho are generally applicable to an L-1 business plan, there are some things that are particular to the L visa that you should make sure to highlight in your business plan.
- Company Ownership & Relationship Between Companies. Describe the qualifying relationship between the U.S. company and the foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate). Make sure to provide details of company ownership and company history.
- Beneficiary’s Job Description. Provide a thorough description of Employee Duties for the beneficiary’s intended position, demonstrating that the beneficiary is an Executive, Manager or Specialized knowledge employee. The description should contain a percentage breakdown of the various duties, explaining how much time the employee will spend on each task. For managers and executives, the job duties should show that the beneficiary has the authority to plan, direct, supervise and control the company’s main functions. For Specialized knowledge employees the description should highlight the duties which require specialized knowledge and explain which of the company’s products, services, equipment, etc. require specialized knowledge.
- Beneficiary’s Employment History. In order to obtain an L-1 visa the U.S. company must show that the beneficiary worked for the foreign company abroad for one year out of the preceding 3 years. If the company is opening a new office, executives and managers must show they were employed in executive or managerial capacities during that time. The business plan should describe the beneficiary’s educational background and employment history and explain how they meet this requirement. Portions of the beneficiary’s resume can also be included in this section.
- Personnel Plan & Hiring Timetable. All L-1 business plans should include a personnel plan describing the organizational structure of the company and detailing company employees, including planned hires over the next 5 years. This section is critically important for new office petitions for managers and executives, as the company must hire enough employees during the first year of operations to allow the office to sustain the executive or managerial position.
- Description of Office/Facilities. The description should include what type of space is being rented or purchased, the square footage of the space and an explanation of how it will accommodate company employees. Pictures can also be included.
The business plan is an extremely important part of an L-1 petition, especially for small companies and new offices, and you should hire a qualified professional to develop your plan. This is particularly the case if you are applying for an immigration petition. In the past few years there has been a large increase in Requests for Evidence (RFE’s) and denials of L petitions. Developing an immigration-compliant business plan is a crucial step in preparing your L-1 visa petition.
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