Many Canadian companies look at the United States when thinking of expanding their business internationally. The American market offers a common language, save French, a similar culture, geographical closeness, and a conducive business environment.
The L-1 non-immigrant visa category is most likely the best type of work visa if you are expanding your business into the U.S. or transferring to an existing American business. Qualifying executives or managers will be granted L-1 Visa status to expand their operations into the United States by establishing and managing a new office. L-1 visas are also available to employees of Canadian companies that have branches, partners, affiliates, or subsidiaries within the United States.
There are two types of L-1 visa schemes:
- L-1A visa for transfer of qualified executives, managers, and even business owners for up to seven years.
- L-1B visa for transfer of specialized knowledge employees to a new or existing U.S. office for up to five years.
Business qualifications for an L1 Visa
You must meet the following requirements to qualify for an L1 visa:
- You must have worked on a full-time basis for a qualifying company outside the U.S. for one year
- You must have worked for the same company as a manager, executive, or a specialized knowledge employee.
- You will be transferred to the U.S. to create a new business or work for a branch, partner, affiliate, or subsidiary of the qualifying Canadian company.
Foreign companies outside the U.S. must continue their business operation during the L-1 transfer to the U.S. This means that while the Canadian employee on the L-1 visa is in the United States, the Canada-side of the business must go on uninterrupted. Depending on the type of business, this can include business deals, payment of taxes, and maintaining employees. A large business isn’t needed to qualify for an L-1 visa.
Expanding your business into the US using the E2 Visa option
There is another popular option to expand your business into the U.S. which is the E-2 visa. The E-2 treaty investor category is available to citizens of Canada and other eligible treaty countries who engage in substantial trade, or who invest a substantial amount of capital in a business venture in the U.S.
E-2 investors are not allowed legal U.S. permanent residence. They are, however, permitted to live in the country to manage their U.S.-based business for five years at a time with unlimited renewals. The E-2 category makes it possible for Canadian transferees to live almost indefinitely in the U.S. with renewable status every five years as long as they stay eligible.
Why you should consult with an immigration law attorney
Requirements to qualify for an L-1 visa can have complications. For example, terms like “executive”, “manager”, and “specialized knowledge worker” have very precise legal definitions. Consulting with an immigration lawyer will help you determine if you qualify. Legal advice is also necessary to see whether a business relationship conforms with a precise legal definition before an L-1 visa is granted. An immigration lawyer can also give you valuable advice regarding the specific documents required for your L-1 visa.
Are you expanding your business into the U.S.?
You must first learn if you qualify. The next step is to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork properly prepared. Our U.S. immigration team of Richards and Jurusik have extensive experience in handling L-1 visas for businesses of all sizes. We have helped many companies successfully expand their business into the United States. We can help you as well.
Call Richards and Jurusik today at (866) 697-1832 to speak with a qualified U.S. Immigration attorney. We’ll be pleased to help you expand your business. Contact us to get an assessment of your case and discuss your qualification and options. Let our experienced team help you with your L-1 or E-2 visa application.