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L-1 Visa Information & Application Process

The United States L1 visa is classified in the US Immigration system as a non-immigrant visa allowing companies situated in the US and overseas to transfer employees of certain types from its foreign operations to the US operations for up to seven years.

Companies operating in the US can apply to the relevant USCIS service center for an L1 visa to transfer someone to the US from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will, initially, be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.
The employee must have worked for the company office of the US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.

The 2 types of employees who are eligible for the L-1 visa;

1. Specialized Knowledge Employees
Employees with significant expertise in the company’s products or services, major systems or procedures, research and development or patentented techniques are issued an L-1B visa, initially for 3 years able to be extended to a maximum of 5 years.

2. Managers or Executives
The executive or manager  category can be strict and usually requires a detailed description of the role. The person should either have a supervisory responsibility for staff or a major demonstrated prominent rolw. The L-1A visa would be issued in this case, for a 3 year period initially and then able to be extended in two year increments up to a maximum of 7 years.

After completing the maximum period in L-1 visa status, the employee must be employed leave the US for at least a minimum of 1 year before a new application is made for the L-1 visa or even H-1B Visa status. The L-1 visa is a dual intent visa meaning you can apply for a green card while on L-1 visa status. L-1 visa applicants may not be denied a visa on the basis that they are an intending immigrant to the US or that they do not have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon. This is also common to the H-1B visa.

The L-1 Visa Application Process

An L-1 visa petition is filed with the USCIS on Form I-129, along with the Form I-129L supplement. These are the documents that are required to verify the application.

a)     A detailed job role description and requirements for the position for Managers. For the specialized knowledge position, detailed description of the unique knowledge to be used by the US branch company
b)     The corporate relationship between the U.S. company and the foreign company (can be a letter from the corporate secretary, and the Articles of Incorporation of US and Foreign Companies)
c)     Documentation verifying the capitalization structure of the company (i.e.. equity ownership documentation)
d)     Proof you have qorked at the foreign company for one of the last 3 years
e)     If coming to the US to setup a new office branch, evidence of establishment of new office (e.g. lease, sales contract, etc.)
f).     Annual report of both US and overseas company or other documents confirming financial stability
g).     An organizational chart indicating your role in the US company and the foreign company
h).     Copies of applicable business permits/licenses and registrations

For Canadian citizens applying for the L-1 visa under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the petition may be filed at the port of entry like the airport or land border when the person applies for admission.

There is no restriction on the types of business that can sponsor an L1 visa – corporations(S, C, LLC etc.), partnerships, government-owned entities and non-profit organizations are all eligible. There are four business entities in the United States that can offer employment to the alien – a parent company, a branch, a subsidiary, or an affiliate.  Sponsoring employer need not be US owned or incorporated. Ownership requirements are not as strict in the case of vary large corporations, where a substantial minority shareholding will be a qualifying relationship.

Some other corporate conditions for the L-1 visa include

i.     A US company must control half or more of the foreign subsidiary, and have ultimate decision making power.
ii.   The foreign company should control at least half of a US subsidiary, and also have decision making powers over the US branch
iii.  Branch US and Overseas companies must each be at least half owned by the same parent organization
iv.   US organization that employs sales people abroad can sponsor these employees for the L-1 Visa even in the absence of an Overseas Branch

I hope this helps answer your questions about the L-1 visa and how it works and whether you may be eligible now or in the future to apply for it.

CJ

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E-3 Visa Terms Explained in Easy To Understand Language

As with most things that crossover with the law, immigration becomes complex to comprehend due to all the legal technicalities, complex wording, acronyms and lawyer jargon used. So therefore the most complex immigration system in the world of the US and one of its most recent visas, the E3 visa, is a nightmare for most people to navigate through.

So essentially this post is to explain a few of the terms you are bound to hear in relation to the E3 visa as you try and find a way to find an employer to sponsor your E3 visa to begin your life living and working in the US.

TERMS:

E3 visa: Without going in to the whole detail of the E3 visa as you can read about it in my blog post about E3, it was a visa that came into being inT 2005 after the AUSFTA (Australia and United States Free Trade Agreement) negotiated between the Howard Government in Australia and the Bush Administration in the US. It is not actually a part of AUSFTA but came subsequent to it as a direct result of the agreement. It is essentially a visa that allows Australian citizens (and their spouses who don’t have to be citizens of Australia) to work in the US for 2 year rolling periods mainly in professional roles.

Non-Immigrant: This is the status the US puts on all legal immigrants who come to the US in a working, student, etc. capacity who don’t have a green card (i.e. US permanent residency). Therefore if you are on a E3 visa or H1B visa working in the US then you are classified as a non-immigrant.

Dual Intent: This is a condition/benefit of non-immigrant visas in the US that allows a person to pursue more permanent status in the United States (i.e. green card) while on their current non-immigrant visa. The H1B visa is a dual intent visa but the E3 visa does NOT have that benefit. Some visas prohibit the application of permanent residency while on that visa status like the J1 visa.

Now to complicate matters further even though the E3 visa is not Dual Intent, it does allow for application for a Green Card as this regulation states below;

“An application for initial admission, change of status or extension of stay in E-3 classification, however, may not be denied solely on the basis of an approved request for permanent labor certification or a filed or approved immigrant visa preference petition.”

Regardless of the above though you still must prove your ties and your “residence abroad” and your intention to leave the United States at the end of your visa period.

Specialty Occupation: This is a term for the E3 visa (and other visas like H1B) that confuses a lot of people as the nature of the wording around what it is makes it sound highly technical and thus it becomes vague as to who it may apply to;

  1. A theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge; and
  2. The attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

Essentially it works like this. The position you are being sponsored for must have a bachelors degree as a minimum requirement for the role even if you don’t hold such a degree. (you can have enough years work experience in that particular field of knowledge to compensate for you lack of degree). This is the reality of a specialty occupation for the E3 visa.

USCIS: Is the United States Customs and Immigration Service which evolved out of the old INS (Immigration and Naturaliztion Service) when the US created the DHS (Department of Homeland Security). Essentially the USCIS is responsible for all things immigration in the US all the way to citizenship, although for the E3 visa the only authorization you need is from the DOL (Department of Labor) which is unlike the H-1B visa which needs the application to also be approved by the USCIS.

I hope this helps clear up some of the terms in the US Immigration system in relation to the E-3 visa 🙂

CJ

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