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Applying for L1 Visa and L1 Visa Requirements

Applying-for-L1-Visa-and-L1-Visa-Requirements

What is a L1 Visa

Are you looking for opportunities to expand your business? Interested in working in the United States? The L1 Visa might be able to help you do that. Also known as the intra-company transferee, this Visa allows an eligible foreign worker to continue their employment in another branch of their company located in the United States.

Who is eligible to apply for L1 Visa?

 In order to apply, you must be a manager, executive, or worker with specialized knowledge who is employed by a foreign company. Note that there are specific definitions of each category; you may only apply if you meet the American definition. For example:
  • A manager refers to someone that supervises and controls the work of other employees. The L1 Visa will also accept managers of an essential function within the organization
  • An executive refers to someone that directs the organization, or someone that directs an essential component of the organization
  • A specialized knowledge worker is someone with special knowledge/skills that are specifically relevant to the services offered by the organization
Note that there is no requirement that the specialized knowledge be something that is unique; rather, it must be at an advanced level that is imperative to the smooth operation of your specific business.

L1 Visa Qualification Criteria

Other qualifications you must have in order to apply include work experience; you must have been working abroad for at least one full year within the 3 years preceding the time you apply. Your company abroad must be related to the business you will establish in the US, and both branches of the company must continue to do business after you have started your business in the United States. If you meet this criteria, you will be able to apply for the L1 Visa. This is essentially a temporary nonimmigrant visa, which allows you to enter the US and work for the company you specified in your application.

I applied for L1 Visa can my family join me?

If you have been granted an L1 visa, your spouse will also be able to receive an L2 Visa. This is a dependent visa that allows the holder to accompany an individual with an L1 Visa to the United States. It will be valid for as long as the L1 Visa is. Furthermore, an L2 Visa holder will be able to work in the United States after they apply for and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). As an L2 Visa holder, your application for the EAD will be approved and you will be able to work part-time or full-time in any legal job in the United States. Before working, however, you will need ensure that you have received both an EAD and Social Security Number (if you did not already have one). If you are a holder of the L1 Visa, your minor (under the age of 21) children who are unmarried will also be given an L2 Visa. However, dependent children will not be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and thus cannot work in the United States.

What documents do I include in my L1 Visa application?

Proving Qualifying Relationship

Your application must demonstrate certain elements that are necessary to obtain the L1 Visa. To begin, you must prove that the new US office will have a business relationship with the foreign company you originally worked at. In other words, you must demonstrate that the new US office will be a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch of the original office and that both offices will continue to share common ownership and control. This is called demonstrating a Qualifying Relationship between the two business entities. You can do this by providing additional documents that evidence the relationship between the two. This includes business licenses, article of incorporation, annual reports related to the business, contracts, corporate filings, or other documents that clearly state the business name and relationship between the two entities.

Proving Secured Office Space

The second thing you will need to demonstrate is that you have secured physical space for the new office. This can be done through a lease, purchase, etc. The amount of physical space will vary depending on the nature of the business, but an appropriate amount to safely run your business should be secured. You can prove that this physical space has been allocated by including your signed lease agreement, mortgage, business plan connecting activity and space required, or other real estate documents within your application.

Proving you Work Full Time Abroad

You also would need to demonstrate that you meet the requirement of working abroad for one full year within the last three years. You can do this by including documents such as: pay stubs, payroll records, tax returns demonstrating employment, or evidence of work products. The other requirement you will need to fulfill is the job type (managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge). You can prove your job type by including documents such as organization charts, performance reviews, resumes, organizational job descriptions, patents, or loans/financing on behalf of the company.

L1 Visa Documents

Note that there is no limit to the amount of documents you can include. In general, the more documents you include that clearly demonstrate your eligibility, the stronger your application will be. However, you will need to ensure that you submit proper documents; some documents require photocopies while others require originals. Refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to confirm whether your documents are acceptable.

How long will the L1 Visa be valid for?

Your initial L1 Visa will be valid for a maximum of one year. After this point, however, you will be permitted to apply to extend your L1 Visa. These extensions can be granted at 2 year increments and you may only apply for 3 extensions. This is because the limit of extensions is 7 years. As an L1 visa holder, you may still eventually apply for a Green Card (Permanent Residency). This is the case for most L1 holders who have expended their ability to extend their L1 Visa. You may file for an Adjustment of Status or an Immigrant Visa. Note that if this is your intention, it will not be a reason for an initial denial of your L1 Visa application.

Are there any circumstances where I would not need to apply for an L1 Visa?

Blanket Petition

If your organization has already filed for a Blanket Petition, you may not need to file for an L1 Visa. The Blanket Petition will establish the intra-company relationship before you would need to file for your individual L1 Visa. However, only certain organizations are eligible to apply for a Blanket Petition. For example, one of the criteria includes that the petitioner must have an office in the United States which has been actively doing business for one year or more as well as have three or more domestic and foreign branches. For a full list of criteria to see if you are eligible for Blanket L Certification, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Blanket Petition Approved

If the Blanket Petition has been approved, the employer will need to send Form 129-S as well as the Blanket Petition Approval Notice to the employee for him/her to send along with just the application form for the L1 Visa. If you are a Canadian citizen, you are exempt from the L1 Visa requirement. You will only need to present the Blanket Petition Approval Notice and Form 129-S (which is to be completed by the employer) to the US Customs and Border Protection Officer to gain L1 status (after which you can work in the United States).

Contact Akrami & Associates

If you are seeking L1 status or have questions about your eligibility, consider the dedicated team at Akrami and Associates. We will be happy to assess your situation and answer further questions you may have. With Akrami and Associates, there is always a way!

Who Qualifies for a TN VISA

who-qualifies-for-tn-visa

What is a TN Visas?

The TN visa was created as a result of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1998. It allows eligible Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the United States under Nonimmigrant Status. Once granted a TN visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the applicant remains with the same employer.

How to qualify for a TN visa?

There are certain conditions that a potential applicant must meet in order to receive TN status in the U.S. The relevant conditions are:
  • Must be a Canadian or Mexican citizen (permanent residents may not apply)
  • Must be in a profession listed under the NAFTA regulations (taken from Appendix 1603.D.1 of NAFTA)
  • Must be filling a position in the United States which requires a NAFTA professional
  • Must have a prearranged full or part-time position with a single U.S. employer
  • Must have achieved the minimum academic qualifications for the profession (listed in Appendix 1603.D.1)
There are approximately 60 eligible professions that can qualify for a TN visa. Most of these positions require at least a baccalaureate degree. Other professions have minimum experience requirements as well. For example, let’s examine the profession of Computer Systems Analyst. A Computer Systems Analyst must possess one of the following requirements: a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; a Post-Secondary Diploma (credential issued for a minimum 2 year program by an accredited academic institution in Canada or the U.S.); or a Post-Secondary Certificate (certificate issued for a minimum 2 year program at an academic institution recognized by the federal or state government of Mexico) plus 3 years’ experience. As you can see, there is some flexibility afforded in meeting the minimum academic qualifications for this position.

Positions under Heightened Scrutiny

It seems to be easier to obtain a TN visa depending on the profession. This comes down to the job description and how much flexibility is granted to particular duties of the profession. For example, applicants applying under the Computer Systems Analyst profession will be more carefully processed than other professions due to the fact that the lines may be blurry between duties carried out by an Analyst as opposed to duties carried out by a Programmer. The same can be said for any professions that involve consulting. The immigration officer will need to carefully verify that a consultant is indeed acting in the capacity of a consultant and not a manager.

Renewal of TN Visas

After successfully obtaining TN status, visa holders can renew their applications when their initial period is about to expire. This can be done by mailing in a renewal if the applicant is still in the United States, or it can be done by returning to a border or port of entry and presenting a new application. Recently there have been more incidents of applicants being refused renewals for the TN visa. While on paper you should be able to renew indefinitely as long as you continue to work for the same employer, in actuality the officer is not required to renew TN status. It is up to the reviewing officer’s discretion. There have also been reported instances of U.S. Border Service officers applying more stringent rules on TN visa holders who wish to renew. According to an open letter submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada from Peter Zurawel, the Colorado Director of IBI Group, many of his employees on TN visas were told to also apply for an L-1 visa.

What is an L-1 Visa?

There are 2 types of L-1 Visa: L-1 A which is for executives and managers, and L-1 B which is for workers with specialized knowledge. Depending on their profession, TN visa applicants may also be requested to apply for a corresponding L-1 visa. Like the TN Visa, the L-1 is a non-immigrant visa most commonly made available to employees of international companies with offices in the U.S. To obtain an L-1 Visa, applicants may be required to apply for either: a Regular L-1, or a Blanket L-1. To apply for a Regular L-1 Visa, the international company that employs the applicant must file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for each employee wishing to enter the U.S. for work. Each application is evaluated separately. To apply for a Blanket L-1 Visa, the international company is already registered with the USCIS and has been approved for Intracompany Transferee visas. In this case, an employee can simply file a copy of the company’s blanket petition along with documentation. In this way the blanket petition covers all employees of the company wishing to enter the U.S.

TN Visas: What Documentation is Necessary to Apply?

In order to increase your chances of success in obtaining a TN Visa, it is advisable to gather the documentation that helps to validate your background. There are cases of applicants succeeding even though they provided minimal documentation. Nonetheless, it is always better to be well prepared, particularly if the officer decides to be extremely thorough in his or her assessment. Below are some examples of documentation that could help you obtain a TN Visa at the U.S. border or port of entry:
  • Proof of Qualifications: As mentioned earlier, each profession has strict minimum requirements in terms of relevant education, training, licensing, certification, and experience. It is in the applicant’s best interest to bring documentary proof of this. Remember, when it comes to presenting qualifications from Canada or Mexico, you should have them assessed by a qualified U.S. credentials evaluator or academic, as there may be differences in equivalencies. If you are presenting proof of qualifications in a language other than English, these documents will need to have been officially translated so that the officer may read them.
  • Letter of Employment: The company you are working for should furnish you with an employment letter on company letterhead. It is also better if this employment letter is signed and dated to make it more official. The letter should confirm that your position is temporary and that you will be a direct employee of the company. A crucial detail to be included in the letter of employment is the duties of your position. If the duties do not correspond with the information about your profession outlined in Appendix 1603.D.1, then you may not be able to qualify for a TN Visa. It is also important for the letter to mention your salary.
  • Information about the Company: It is important that the officer evaluating your application has access to proper details about the company you are employed with. This could be a general information sheet about the company’s location, objectives, revenue, size, etc.
  • Resume: It doesn’t hurt to have an up to date resume available which can quickly allow the officer to evaluate your relevant educational and work experience. A professional resume helps make a good impression and really helps to summarize what you are capable of doing.
These are just some of the documents that can help you successfully apply for a TN Visa. A professional application package would contain all the information necessary to prove your background, credentials, and reasons for requesting to work in the U.S.

Contact Akrami and Associates

If you are adequately prepared to apply for a TN Visa, you will have a much better chance of receiving permission from the U.S. officer so that you can enter the country and start working. For those considering going to the U.S. to work as a professional under the NAFTA agreement, make sure that you prepare the best possible application. Contact our legal team of Canadian and U.S. immigration lawyers today at 416-477-2545. Our staff can help you enter the next phase in your professional career by using our experience and knowledge to benefit you.

How to obtain and file for a TN Visa

how-to-obtain-and-file-for-tn-visaWhat is a TN visa?

A TN visa allows you to work in the U.S. temporarily. But there are restrictions to obtaining a TN visa.

What are the steps to obtaining a TN visa?

  • You must have Canadian or Mexican citizenship
  • The position must be under the NAFTA list of occupations
  • You must be employed under an American employer
  • The position should be arranged from before (either part-time or full-time)
  • The position requires a NAFTA professional
  • And you must fulfill the criteria that is associated with the profession
You will be eligible for a TN visa if all of these requirements are met. One of the advantages of a TN visa is it is approved quicker. But there are steps involved and they will be outlined in better detail below.

Do Canadian citizens require a TN visa?

A TN visa is not required for a Canadian citizen. The next step for if you are a Canadian citizen, you would go to a U.S. port of entry at a CBP (Custom and Border Protection). There you will show your documentation. In addition your employer can petition for you on your behalf by filling out “Form 1-129” to the USCIS. If approved, then show approval notice to the CBP officer.

What documents do I need to show CBP officer as a Canadian citizen?

  1. Proof of Canadian citizenship
  2. A letter from your U.S. employer that states the professional capacities in which you will work there (i.e. the purpose of the job, how long you’ll work there, the term, etc.).
  3. Credentials evaluation

Do my spouse and children require a TN visa?

If you have a spouse and children who are single and under the age of 21, they will require a TN visa. You must show proof of their citizenship as well as your relationship to them (i.e. marriage certificate and birth certificate). They will be in admitted in as TD non-immigrant status. Your spouse will not be permitted to work but she and your children can study while there.

I am a Mexican citizen do I need a TN visa?

If you are a Mexican citizen you will need to apply for a TN visa. Once received you will go to a U.S port of entry and show the appropriate documentation to the CBP officer. In addition you will need to provide proof that you plan on returning once your term is over and will maintain your TN non-immigrant status. If one of your TD dependents decides to travel after approval of extension and expiration, then they would need to re-apply for a TD visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy.

How to submit a TN application?

There are several steps you need to take in order to apply or a TN visa. You must first begin by completing an online Non-immigrant Visa Application and you submit a photo online. That is the first step you need to take if you want to get a TN visa.

Schedule an Interview

This is the next step that needs to be taken. Interviews are usually not required for anyone 13 and younger or 80 and older, but it is up to the discretion of the officer reviewing your case to decide whether they would like an interview or not. If you fall within the 14-79 age groups, you must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, which is usually at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are residing in at the time.

Preparing for your Interview

The application fee is $160, which is a non-refundable application fee and you are required to pay it before your interview begins.

What documents do I need for TN visa?

Next, you would have to gather all the required documentation that is needed for your visa interview. The documents are as listed:
  • A valid passport to travel to the United States, and it must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United states,
  • Non-immigrant Visa Application, confirmation form,
  • Application fee payment receipt, which you are required to pay and bring proof of that to the interview,
  • Photo, when you uploaded the photo online but it did not work, you must bring a copy to the interview,
  • A contract or letter of employment in the United States to show that you have a job offer, there are certain requirements that must be included in the letter, and
  • Documentation that proves you have met the minimum education and/or work experience that is required for the job, there are specific documents that may be submitted to demonstrate these. There may be additional documents that might be required to help establish if you are qualified. Sometimes proof of a license for your given profession is not required, but should be brought into considered to bring along, just in case you are accepted into the US. You may need that licensure to practice a given profession. Your spouse and children may apply for TN visas to accompany you to the United States or join you later. You need to be able to prove your ability to financially support your family when you are in the US.

Attend your Visa Interview

During your interview with the officer, they will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa and if so, which visa category you qualify for based on your purpose of travel.

Contact Akrami & Associates

As you can tell, there are a lot of steps that need to be taken to move your TN visa application along and many documents are required for the interview. Allow our legal professionals to answer any questions or comments you may have or to help you given compiling your application package for your interview. Do not hesitate to contact us at 416-477-2545 or call our toll free number at 1-877-820-7121