I want to expand my Business to the US. Can an L1 Visa help?

Using an L1 Visa to conduct business in the US

Question. I have a business in Canada and I wish to expand to the US. How can I achieve this?

Answer. For Canadians wishing to expand their businesses to the US, they may qualify for an L1 Visa.

About the L1 Visa

An L-1 Visa is a US Work Visa that allows Canadians to get authorization to work in a US based business that is a branch, affiliate or subsidiary of their Canadian business. In order to qualify for an L1 Visa, the Canadian must have worked in their Canadian business for at least one year within the last 3 years proceeding the application and they have to have worked either as an executive, manager and a person of specialized knowledge in that business.  Finally, there has to be a “qualifying relationship” between the Canadian business and the new or existing US Business. This means that there has to be some sort of corporate connection between the two businesses such as common ownership.

If these conditions are met, application forms have to be completed along with supporting documentation that provides the necessary information concerning the Canadian and US companies. Under NAFTA, Canadians can apply for their L1 Visas at the US Canada Port of Entry and obtain their visas on the spot.

Applying for an L1 Visa

The key to  making a successful L1 Visa application is to ensure that your documentation is properly prepared from both the US and the Canadian side. L1 Visas are valid up to 3 years at a time to a maximum of 7 years. If you are starting a new US Business, you will be issued only a one year visa for the first year under the “Start Up L1” provisions. The L1 Visa is also transferable to US Green Cards for those interested in something more permanent.

Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

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About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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