What is a Qualifying Organization for an L-1 Visa?
For the purposes of an L-1 visa, foreign businesses or organizations are required to be related to the U.S. based entity in a specific manner. The following are recognized as acceptable qualifying relationships according to USCIS.
If a foreign entity owns more than 50% of a U.S. entity, the foreign entity is a majority owner of the U.S. entity. If the U.S. entity is the parent entity and owns more than 50% of the foreign entity, the U.S. entity is also the majority owner.
If both the foreign entity and the U.S. entity have the same majority stock owner who owns more than 50% in both companies, then the companies are sister companies. The U.S. company qualifies to petition for the L-1 visa.
Controlling Ownership of an Entity
If a parent entity is not the majority owner, hence owns 50% or less of the subsidiary or affiliate companies, but is a controlling owner through a constructive majority holding, then the U.S. entity is qualified to apply for L-visa.
If a foreign entity has a branch office in the U.S. or vice versa and the branch conducts actual business and does not serve only as an agent or representative, then the U.S. entity qualifies as a petitioner for an L-1 visa.
L-1 Visa Program Additional Requirements for New Offices or Branches in the United States
The L-1 visa program allows foreign businesses or organizations the opportunity to re-locate employees to the United States to expand by opening up new offices or branches. Foreign entities who want to send an L-1 visa employee to the United States for the purpose of establishing a new office, the following criteria must also be met:
- The company must have secured a sufficient physical premise to house the new office.
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; or
- The employee has been employed in a position that utilized specialized knowledge of product, services, process or other non-generalized information for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The new U.S. office will support the said executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position within one year of receiving petition approval.