L-1A New Office in the United States
--- What it takes to to expand your business in the United States ---
I. To qualify for L-1 classification, the EMPLOYER must:
(1) Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
(2) Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
II. To qualify, the named EMPLOYEE must also:
(1) Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
(2) Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.
Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for complete definitions.
III. New Offices
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(3)(v) for details.
After 1 year the new office must support a managerial or executive position if you are requesting an extension of stay in the L-1A classification. While a new office may be opened on an L-1 visa by someone working within your organization in a managerial, executive or specialized-knowledge capacity, after one year the office must be sufficiently active to support a manager or executive. During the first year ramp up, a manager or executive may be required, as a practical matter, to engage in many “hands-on” tasks that go beyond inherently managerial or executive tasks. After the first year, however, the manager or executive will be required to focus primarily on managerial or executive tasks in order to obtain an extension of the L-1 visa.
Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that the new office is fully functioning includes:
- Purchase orders, contracts or other evidence of commercial activity.
- Payroll records for employees hired.
- Bank statements.
- Financial reporting documents showing monthly income.
- Continued venture capital or other third party investment contribution based on achieved milestones.
- Media coverage of the business.
- Position descriptions providing the roles and responsibilities of all current employees, or other evidence which clearly demonstrates how the manager or executive is relieved of non-qualifying duties.