Immigration law is complex, to say the least. Obtaining a visa is often a long process that requires applicants to adhere to strict requirements. That’s why, if you’re going through the L1 visa process, it’s always a good idea to have an L1 business plan if you are looking to maximize your chances of success.
If you are a foreign professional or business owner who is in the market for a visa, then you have several options to choose from. In this post, we’ll cover the best strategy for an L1 visa for employee transfers. We’ll start with a brief background on this helpful visa.
The L1 is a nonimmigrant visa classification that is designed for multinational employers to transfer their employees from a branch or affiliate in a foreign country to one that is based in the U.S. These employees can be managers, executives, or employees with specialized knowledge.
If you and your employer qualify according to these guidelines, then the most difficult aspect will most likely be proving that your position falls under the USCIS regulations for either a manager, executive, or specialized employee (this last position being the most difficult to prove and therefore resulting in the most denials).
Your employer will also need to prove that the branch or affiliate, whether it is new or previously established, has the potential for growth that will allow the USCIS to project a positive impact on the U.S. economy and job market.
Is an L1 Business Plan Required?
The official USCIS regulations do not state that an L1 business plan is required to obtain a visa. However, as previously stated, the main difficulty lies with convincing the USCIS that your position is legitimate and that the business is set up with the potential to succeed.
Because of that, having an L1 business plan is invaluable and often necessary to gain approval. In fact, very few L1 visas are granted to those whose employers do not present viable business plans to the USCIS. That’s why we’ll be covering what you need to know in order to create a plan that will maximize your potential for approval.
However, an online guide should not be a substitute for qualified legal counsel. It is important to always retain an immigration attorney whenever working through the issues surrounding immigration law. This will help avoid unnecessary and costly mistakes.
Tips for Creating a Solid Business Plan
The idea behind the business plan is to get it right the first time. After reading your plan, the immigration officers at the USCIS should have no questions regarding the nature of your business, your competitiveness in the industry markets, or how your transferee fits into the plan.
So without further ado, here are seven helpful tips for developing an effective L1 business plan.
Tip #1: Organize Necessary Documents
Step one to any immigration filing process is to identify which documents are required and to organize them in an easy-to-access way. Here is a quick list of the required documentation for your business plan:
- Proof of a rented or bought physical premises for the U.S. branch. This can be through either the lease or the deed to the premises.
- Statements related to the foreign branch’s finances over the last three years.
- A chart showing the organizational hierarchy within the foreign branch and another chart showing the expected hierarchy in the U.S. branch over the next five years.
- If you are buying a company or franchise, you will need the buy-sell agreement for that deal.
- Documents that support your business whether it is a corporation or an LLC.
- The L1 visa beneficiary’s resume as well as the resumes of all managers in the company.
- Documents that give evidence to whether the foreign branch is either the parent company or an affiliate of the company.
Tip #2: Give a Summary of Your Business
Because the immigration officer will encounter your business summary first, it is important to make this part water-tight. Your summary should be brief but packed with information. It should be one page long and include the following items about both the U.S. company and the foreign parent or affiliate:
- When your company was founded and who founded it
- Who currently owns the company
- What kind of business your company conducts
- Where your company has its premises
- What your company’s goals are
- How you plan to grow your business
- What the target market is
- How many employees currently work at the company
- What the L1 visa holder will be doing in the U.S. branch or affiliate
- How many employees the company plans to hire in the first five years
- A statement of projected revenue through the first five years
Tip #3: Demonstrate the Structure of Ownership
Your L1 business plan should make the structure of ownership within your company very clear to the USCIS. This can easily be shown using a short paragraph and a simple graphic that demonstrates the ownership hierarchy as well as the internal structure of your company
Tip #4: Explain Your Business’s Industry
This section should be written in a way that makes the immigration officer aware of the particulars and details associated with your particular industry. For example, if you have a web marketing business, then it would be important to highlight some of the specifics that go into this business such as content creation, analytics, and research.
Tip #5: Understand the Market
Or rather, have the immigration officer understand the market. It is not only important that you highlight the industry itself, but also your company’s place in it. You must prove that your company will be able to enter the U.S. market through a careful analysis of how it differs from the market in your foreign branch. So your business plan should present your market in a way that shows how the industry as a whole is growing and how you plan to grow with it.
Tip #6: Perform Competitor Analysis
One of the hallmarks of marketing is to analyze your competitors. Each successful business keeps close tabs on their competitors, and you should too. Doing this can help alert you to changes or updates in the industry and give you an idea of what is working and what isn’t. Having a detailed competitor analysis report can show the USCIS that you are a serious company that is willing to put the effort necessary to succeed.
Tip #7: Show How You Plan to Grow Your Business
This should be a detailed plan involving strategies for marketing, expansion, and personnel growth. However, while the temptation may be strong to bolster this with unrealistic growth expectations to impress the immigration officer, this strategy is often the cause of rejections and denials. Therefore, it is important to present a practical growth business plan.
Tip #8: Show Your Financial Projections
Here, you should endeavor to show a detailed report of your company’s previous financial growth and how that is projected to continue on to the U.S. branch or affiliate through the L1 holder. Again, like in the previous tip, it is important not to embellish these projections. Take a very realistic approach to this plan as anything else threatens to arouse the USCIS suspicions that you or your employees are trying to enter the U.S. fraudulently.
At the end of the day, the immigration officer needs to be relatively certain that your business and proposed growth will be a valuable asset to both the U.S. economy and job market. It can be easy to think of this L1 business plan as any other plan you would develop for an investor or merger. However, this immigration plan should be created with the intention of highlighting the positive impact your company is projected to make in the U.S.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
If you are interested in petitioning for an L1 visa, then the only thing more important than having a solid L1 business plan is having an experienced immigration lawyer helping you. Many of the common mistakes that people make during the filing process that result in rejections can easily be avoided by retaining a qualified attorney.
Our L1 lawyers here at SGM Law Group have extensive experience working with multi-national companies and their employees alike to help them develop the business plans that are crucial to L1 visa approval. To speak with one of our attorneys, you can fill out our contact form and schedule a consultation today.