Global trade continues expanding as technology continues to shrink the distances among us, and trade between the U.S. and Canada, in particular, has been expanding ever since the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) was signed in the 1990s. Trade between the two countries now logs in at nearly $600 billion per year, according to the Canadian government.
For business owners in Canada who might be looking south for expansion opportunity, the L-1 visa offers a potential means of exporting key people to support an entry into U.S. markets. The L-1 intra-company transferee regulations under the NAFTA treaty provide special considerations related to the opening of a new office in the U.S.
An expanding company can utilize the L-1A visa process, which may require renewals, to transfer an executive or manager to the U.S. for up to 7 years. Similarly, the company can utilize the L-1B visa to transfer an employee with specialized knowledge for up to five years.
The employer must provide information about the organizational structure of the current and proposed business entities involved in an expansion, the financial goals of the entities, and the size of the U.S. investment. The employer must also provide evidence of real business operations in Canada that will be ongoing while the L-1 beneficiary or beneficiaries are in the U.S.
Of course, there are other nuances to obtaining any kind of L-1 visa, and petitioners need to be acutely aware of both the law and the law, as interpreted by regulatory officials, who have denied an increasing percentage of L-1 visas in recent years after responses to requests for supplemental evidence proved inadequate.
If you are seeking to expand your business into the U.S. and want the advice and assistance of an experienced and qualified immigration lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (847)564-0712. You can also check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.