The L1 business plan is a supporting document for an application for a L1 Visa – Intracompany Transferee when a U.S. employer wants an employee to transfer from another country into the U.S. to work in an U.S. office. The L1 visa is also applicable when an established foreign enterprise wants to open a U.S. office and needs to transfer one or more employees to work in the new business.
Understanding the Minimum Requirements
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency administers the L1 Visa and has set some requirements. One requirement is that the foreign office and U.S. office must be operated by the same company. The U.S. office can take many business forms as a parent office, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of a foreign parent company. Another requirement is that the U.S. and foreign business are related in some manner, and the foreign enterprise will continue to do business.
Yet another requirement is that the new U.S. office must be active at the time the employee transfers or close to actively operating after the employee’s arrival as an L1. Also, a new U.S. office has to have adequate space for operations.
Requirements for the Employee
For the person applying for the L1 visa, the requirements are:
- The employee is a manager or executive, or has specialized knowledge
- The employee works for an enterprise that is not in the U.S
- The employee has been working for a minimum of one continuous year within the last 3 years in a position outside the U.S.
The original intent of the L1 visa was for multinational companies interested in starting or expanding U.S. branches. However, the L1 Visa is now used by small and medium-sized businesses that want to expand operations into the U.S.The L1 business plan is a key document that accompanies the visa application. It must be high quality, accurate, and complete in order for the application to be considered by USCIS officials. It describes the business in great detail so that the reader is left with no doubts as to what the business involves, who will own and manage it, and its relationship to the foreign company.
There is a variety of supporting business documentation that accompanies the L1 plan, and knowing how to assemble it is crucial. For example:
- Proving the business relationship – To prove the foreign and U.S. operations are related, the supporting documentation for the L1 Visa includes items like the articles of incorporation, business licenses, contracts, corporate filings, etc.
- Proving work time – Documentation for the L1 Visa to prove the employee worked the minimum one year in a three-year period includes paycheck stubs, copies of payroll records, and tax returns.
- Proving type of position held in foreign country – There is a requirement that the transferring employee be in a professional position in the overseas company. A professional position is an executive, senior manager, or some other type of managerial position. The rules also allow an enterprise to bring an employee with specialized knowledge into the United States. For example, the employee may have expertise in one of the STEM areas – science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics.
The appropriate supporting documentation for proving the type of position in the L-1 business plan for visa application can take many forms. It might be a business organization chart which has the employee’s name on it. It could be performance reviews, job descriptions, or a resume. Documentation proving specialized knowledge can be anything showing the employee’s work produced products or services, or that proves knowledge, like a patent or certificates of accomplishment.
- Proving office space – Supporting documentation to prove office space is adequate for operations includes a signed leasing contract or a mortgage, if the space is purchased. Other documentation can be anything that proves operational activities are being conducted in that space, like marketing materials that have the address of the space where the employee will be working.
- Proving the operation meets the “active and operating” requirement – The documentation accepted as proof the business is already operating, or will be operating within a year after the employee arrives, is broad. Documentation includes items like sales or inventory reports, payroll reports, or contracts with customers or vendors.
An L1 visa extension can be applied for if it takes more than a year to get a new enterprise up and running. During the first year, any activity is appropriate when related to the operation. After the first year, the documentation needs to prove the executive or manager is performing appropriate managerial or executive duties.
Hire a Consultant
Understanding how to assemble the right documentation to support the L-1 business plan is critical to visa application acceptance. Consultants with experience writing and documenting this type of enterprise plan can provide invaluable expertise.
The business plan is required for the L1 Visa application and for long-term success. The L1 support document presents a complete picture of the operation, including the mission and marketing strategies.
What is in an L1 business plan? The typical L1 business plan sample includes:
- Executive Summary – Present the vision for the enterprise and its current status. Is the U.S. operation already active, or will the employee assist with startup during the first year? What does the parent company do; what will the U.S. based operation do; and what is the relationship of the two companies? What value will the operation bring the U.S.? This is the type of information offered in the summary.
- Management – In this section, the experience and knowledge of the key managers are presented by name and title. This information can be presented by writing short bios with positions documented via an organization chart.
Illustrative business plan samples
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