Transferring Managers and Executives from Your Australian Business to Your U.S. Business: L-1A Visas

Australian companies can transfer Managers and Executives to an legally-related U.S. company. This is a temporary work visa that allows the holder of the L-1A to move freely between the U.S. and Australia if he/she desires to work for both companies.

Eligibility for an L-1 Visa to Manage Your New or Established U.S. Business:

To be eligible for an L-1A visa, you must satisfy all of the following:

  • The Australian and U.S. businesses must have one of the following qualifying relationships:
    • Branches
    • Parent/Subsidiary
    • Affiliates (meaning the two business are owned or controlled by the same company, individual or group of individuals)
  • The person being transferred has been a Manager or Executive full-time for the Aussie company (or any foreign qualifying company) for at least one full year within the last three years.
  • The person being transferred will be a Manager or Executive in the U.S. company and will not be performing the day-to-day administrative tasks of running the business.
I Am Not a Manager or Executive, Am I Eligible for an L-1A Visa?

No, but you may be eligible for the L-1B visa that allows essential workers to be transferred from foreign offices to US offices that have one of the qualifying relationships described above. For more information, please e-mail us (go to the “Contact Us” tab on this website) or call our office (1-312-803-0360).

Do I Need to be the Owner of Both the Australian and U.S. Businesses?

The ownership structure just needs to fall into one of the “qualifying” relationships described above, you do not need to have any ownership stake in either company. But if you own and control both companies, you will likely qualify for an L-1A visa.

I Want to Transfer My Business to the U.S., Does This Visa Work?

No, you cannot fully move your operations to the U.S. The law requires that your Australian business remain open and operational for the whole time that you are present in the U.S. on an L-1A visa. If you want to “transfer” your business to the U.S., the E-2 investor visa is likely the best visa for you. Starting a Business in the United States: E-2 Investor Visas For Australians (General Guidelines)

Does It Matter How Large or Small the Businesses Are?

The law does not require a certain size for your Aussie or U.S. business. However, the general rule is that it is easier to get an L-1A application approved for bigger companies (more employees, higher revenues) because it is easier to prove viability of the companies and also that you are a Manager or Executive in practice, not just in title.

I Have Not Started the U.S. Business Yet, Am I Still Eligible for this Visa?

Not exactly. The business must already be somewhat established, specifically you must already have secured an office/store/etc for the business and your business plan must realistically show that the business will need a Manager or Executive within the first year. It is important to show that the Manager/Executive will not be doing the administrative tasks that are typically performed by lower ranking employees. So the more employees working for the U.S. business, the stronger the L-1A application.

Does the Australian Business have to have a Specific Corporate Structure?

No, but if your company is done as a Sole Trader (commonly referred to in the U.S. as a Sole Proprietorship) structure, there can be some challenges with the application. Email or call our office (1-312-803-0360) for a free discussion about whether your Sole Trader business will potentially qualify for an L-1A.

Does the U.S. Business have to have a Specific Corporate Structure?

No, it just needs to be properly registered/incorporated. You need to properly incorporate your business in a state, obtain a tax identification number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and obtain any necessary state licenses to operate. The type of business you open, for example a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Corporation, is largely a tax question and does not matter for visa purposes. However, as discussed above, the ownership structure of the U.S. business does matter as it must fit into one of the qualifying relationships. It is best to consult with an experienced business immigration lawyer before finalizing the structure of a new U.S. business.

Do Non-Profit Organizations Have the Rights to Petition for L-1A Visas?

Yes.

How Long Is The Visa Valid?

If the U.S. business has been operating for less than 1 year, the maximum validity period that will be granted for the initial visa is 1 year. If the U.S. business has been operating for more than 1 year, the maximum validity period that will be granted for the initial visa is 3 years.

The L-1A visa may be renewed up to a maximum stay of 7 years.

Why Would I Get an L-1 Visa Instead of an E-2 Visa?

If you have intentions of eventually seeking permanent residency, the L-1A may be a better visa option for you. One, you are allowed to enter on an L-1A visa with an intent to remain in the U.S. permanently whereas for the E-2 investor visa you must convince the consular officer that you have no intent to permanently remain in the U.S. Two, there is a permanent residency category that is very similar to the L-1A visa requirements and it is common to enter the U.S. on an L-1A and then apply for permanent residency.

Can I Convert This Visa Into Permanent Residency (a Green Card)?

Not exactly. There are no temporary U.S. work visa that automatically convert into permanent residency. However, there is a permanent residency classification that is very similar to the L-1A which you may be eligible for after the U.S. business has been operating for at least 1 year.

Can My Spouse Come With Me to the U.S. and Work in the U.S.?

Yes. Your spouse is an entitled to a derivative visa if you are granted an L-1A visa. And once in the U.S., your spouse can apply for an employment authorization card that will allow them to work at any employer in the U.S.

How Do I Apply for an L-1A Visa and How Long Does the Process Take?

The application must be submitted by the company to the appropriate office of USCIS in the U.S. for processing. It can take several months to receive a response to your application or you can pay an extra fee to receive a response within 15 days. We prepare and submit the application forms and supporting evidence for our clients.

Once you have an Approval Notice, you will schedule and attend an interview at the appropriate U.S. Consulate in Australia in order to get the physical visa in your passport:

Your ResidenceU.S. Consulate That Will Process Your Visa
Australian Capital TerritoryU.S. Consulate in Sydney
New South WalesU.S. Consulate in Sydney
Norfolk IslandU.S. Consulate in Sydney
QueenslandU.S. Consulate in Sydney
Northern TerritoryU.S. Consulate in Melbourne
South AustraliaU.S. Consulate in Melbourne
TasmaniaU.S. Consulate in Melbourne
VictoriaU.S. Consulate in Melbourne
Western AustraliaU.S. Consulate in Perth

For a free assessment of whether you qualify for an L-1A visa, please e-mail us or call our office (1-312-803-0360).

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