A business plan is a standard requirement when applying for a New Office L-1 visa.  These applications are adjudicated by USCIS and an adjudicator will read every word of the plan.  USCIS is particularly good at using quotes from business plans in RFEs and they can be extremely exacting.  The plan should set out a description of the business, market data, information on competitors, as well as important financial data including an income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement.  The Business Plan also includes a personnel table that shows who will be hired and when and should who rapid hiring in year one.   You can find out more about what should be included in a Business Plan by clicking here.

You can find our more about the L-1 visa requirements by clicking here.

Do I need a Business Plan for an L-1 Visa?

A business plan is required if the L-1 is a new office L.  For other L visas, a plan normally would not be required as the company would already have had existing operations in the U.S.  However, you may still want to include a business plan if the U.S. company has not performed well in the recent past or has very few employees. In that case, a business plan can be helpful to show how you plan to get the business back on track and hire additional employees. Having employees is especially important for L-1A applications to demonstrate that the L-1 applicant will be able to focus primarily on managerial or executive duties.

How Long Should an L-1 Business Plan Be?

A good plan is usually around the 30 page mark.  The plan should be detailed, and we do not recommend a power point or other summarized version.  The plan will normally be more detailed than an E-2 visa business plan as USCIS will read every page of the plan and the plan will be the primary basis for the approval of the L-1 Visa.

What is the Most Important Part of an L-1 business Plan?

The Personnel section is one of the most important parts of the L-1 business plan. The plan must show rapid hiring in year 1 (normally 3-5 employees) and the plan should also focus on the job descriptions of both the applicant and the new hires. The applicant would have to be brought to the U.S. to perform management, executive or specialized activities. The staff should also be senior and at least at the manager level.

The Executive Summary is also important part of the Business Plan.  This is usually a short summary (one to two pages) that has all of the key information regarding the company. (What they do, Who they sell to, financial snapshot, Employee snapshot).  You can find out more about the executive summary by clicking here.

Finally, the income statement is important as it shows whether or not the business will be profitable and whether the company can sustain the employees.  You can find out more about drafting the employee section of a Business Plan by clicking here.

What do Examiners Look for in an L-1 business Plan?

The Business Plan gives an examiner a financial outlook over a 2 or 3 year period and he/she will use these projections to assess whether the new office will be viable.  The examiner will also review the employee hiring table with specific attention to the roles of the new hires (you should note that for an E-2 visa, it does not matter what the roles of the staff are).   An examiner may also look at the assumptions you made to come up with your figures and assess whether they are reasonable.  Some applicants include unrealistically high revenue figures, and this can be a sign to an examiner that the plan is not well thought out.  You can find out  more about financial projections for business plans by clicking her.

Should you hire an L-1 lawyer to Draft the Business Plan?

An L-1 lawyer has normally filed many L-1 applications and has reviewed various business plans.  He/She is aware of what USCIS is looking for and USCIS is very exacting with these plans.   The Business plan is a make or break for an L-1 New Office visa.

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