L-1 for company transfers

The L-1 visa is available for a US company to transfer an employee from an office in another country to go and work in their office in the US. It can also be used for when companies are looking to open a US operation to move executives and managers over to.
There are two different L1 visa types:

L1-A

This is used when managers and/or executives are moving to a US office or going to the US to establish an office/premises there. This type of visa allows a stay in the US for a maximum of 7 years, although it would be initially for one year before extension requests are processed.

L1-B

This type of visa is for specialized employees who bring specialist skills or knowledge that is required in the US office of a company. The L1-B visa grants a maximum of 5 years in the US, although they will initially be allowed three years before any extensions are requested.
The process for obtaining a L1 visa is pretty much the same for each scenario. It is the etitioning employer that must submit the visa application.
The requirements for granting a L1 visa includes that the employee has worked for the company (outside of the US) for a minimum of a year within the last three years.
To start the process for obtaining a L-1 visa the employer must file a Form I-129 Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, along with paying the fee. The company must have what is deemed to be a ‘qualifying relationship’ with a foreign company e.g. a parent company, or branch. They must also be doing regular business providing goods and/or services, as opposed to just having an office in another country.
The premises for opening a new office in the US must be secured and deemed to be sufficient for the running of the US operation. It is possible for companies to apply for a blanket petition for employees but there is strict eligibility criteria, such as having US subsidiaries with combined annual sales of at least $25m, or a U.S. workforce of over 1,000 staff.

Other Visas


E2 Visa (Investors and Employees)

The E2 visa is available for application from non-immigrants to enter the US when they are investing a substantial amount of money in a US business. Employees for the investment company may also be allowed to have an E2 visa to assist with the investment process e.g. advising on the investment.

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M-1 Visa

Any foreign national that is looking to study in the US must obtain a student visa before entering the country. There are three different types of student visas, so it is vital that you check the criteria for each visa to ensure that you apply for the correct one, to avoid getting it declined and delaying the process.

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H-2A for seasonal agricultural workers

The H-2A visa is available specifically for foreign nationals to take on seasonal agricultural work. This type of visa is only applicable for temporary and seasonal work and not long-term work. Typically, it can be difficult for employers to fill their vacancies for this type of work, particularly given the short-term nature of it, so it is often in their interests to employ foreign nationals to perform the duties due to higher levels of availability.

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