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Expand into the U.S. Market with the L-1A Visa

Suppose you run a company outside the U.S. and are hoping to continue operations outside the U.S., but want to expand into the U.S. market and bring some existing employees with you. In that case, the L-1A visa is one you’ll want to explore. In this post, learn if the L-1A visa is a good fit for your company.

l-1a visa

Although we work with businesses of all sizes and stages, startup founders make up the majority of our clientele. From our screening team to our immigration team, we find ourselves listening to the stories of startup founders every single day. Our screening team includes both people with years of experience working as immigration paralegals and others who hold the exact visas we sell at Legalpad. They talk to hundreds of people like you each week, from young entrepreneurs who have founded ventures in their dorm rooms to executives with decades of experience working at internationally renowned companies in the U.S. and elsewhere. Our immigration team is comprised of distinguished business Immigration Attorneys and Immigration Specialists who are just as knowledgeable of the startup world as they are knowledgeable of the complexities of U.S. immigration law. We offer free resources to help equip and educate people who aren’t quite ready for a visa or green card yet, and we also find ourselves often working with repeat clients who keep coming back for their own immigration needs and the needs of their growing U.S. teams. 

We’ve noticed a trend through all these conversations, and it may seem like an obvious one, but it's worth talking about: expanding to the U.S. market often results in exponential growth. Regardless of your business model, establishing a presence in the U.S. unlocks lucrative opportunities with access to new markets and U.S. capital. There are endless opportunities to explore, but the first step is to make sure you can legally work and hire a team in the U.S.  

Suppose you run a company outside the U.S. and are hoping to continue operations outside the U.S., but want to expand into the U.S. market and bring some existing employees with you. In that case, the L-1A visa is one you’ll want to explore. 

The L-1A visa was created to enable managers and executives at foreign companies to transfer to an entity of the same company in the U.S. The L-1A might be a good fit for your company if:

  • You are willing and able to establish a U.S. company that is a parent, subsidiary, brand, affiliate, or sister company of your foreign company.
  • You are willing and able to establish physical office space in the U.S.
  • You want to continue business operations in the U.S., and in at least one other country throughout the duration of the L-1A(s) you want to file (usually 1 year to start)
  • You want to see your company grow in the U.S.
  • You have employees who have worked for the foreign company for at least one continuous year in the past three years as a manager or an executive that you would like to offer positions in the U.S.
  • The employees will be offered managerial or executive positions in the U.S.

If your U.S. company is already established, you can transfer managers or executives from the foreign company to the U.S. for a visa validity period of three years. After three years, the L-1A visa can be extended in two-year increments for up to seven total years.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a company in the U.S. yet, but you would like to, “new office” L-1As make that possible. New office L-1A visas allow managers and executives to transfer from the foreign company to the U.S. to be managers and executives at the new company. A single company can file one new office L-1A to start or file numerous new office L-1As to bring over a larger team. 

If the new office L-1A visas are approved, those employees have one year to hire and grow the company in the U.S. After one year, they can file for an extension. When adjudicating the extensions, USCIS will be looking for evidence that the employees have hired teams and are operating as managers or executives of the U.S company. This option is a great fit for multinational startup companies that want to bring some of their teams to the U.S. and grow the company here. These L-1A holders can also extend their visas in two-year increments for up to a total of seven years. 

L-1As can be filed with premium processing, which means the government will adjudicate L-1A petitions within 15 calendar days for an extra fee. 

If you want to learn more about L-1As, we have answers to the most common questions we get about the L-1A visa. 

You can also connect with our team. We are excited to be a part of your journey to expand into the U.S. market, regardless of which visa option you choose!

About the author:

Annie Blay

Content Marketing Specialist

Before joining the marketing team, Annie helped over 60 Legalpad clients navigate U.S. immigration on the client services team.