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Intracompany transfer visa for executives and managers: the L-1A

U.S. law offers the L-1A nonimmigrant visa to facilitate two kinds of intracompany transfers of executives and managers from offices abroad to affiliated locations within the country:

  • The first purpose of an L-1A is to allow a company with a U.S. location to transfer an executive or manager from one of its offices abroad to a U.S. location.
  • The second purpose is to allow a foreign business to transfer an executive or manager into the U.S. to set up a new office.

In Vancouver, the L-1A status may be sought in a couple of scenarios. A Canadian company may seek to transfer an executive or manager to the U.S. to set up a U.S. location or a Canadian affiliate of a U.S. company may want to transfer an executive or manager from the Canadian location to a U.S. office.

A lawyer can facilitate completion of the proper forms and gathering of supporting documentation. The intracompany transferee from a Canadian office location could be a Canadian citizen or other foreign national. Canadian citizens are normally eligible for special, streamlined L-1 procedures under NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Some of the legal issues in the L-1A application process include:

  • Whether the foreign location is a “qualifying organization” such as a branch, subsidiary, parent company or other legitimate affiliate of the U.S. office
  • Whether the U.S. location is or will be (in case of setting up a new office) actually conducting business in the U.S. and another country simultaneously throughout the executive or manager’s time in the U.S.; doing business is defined as “regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services … not … the mere presence of an agent or office … “
  • Whether the transferee employee has either executive capacity to make important business decisions independently or managerial capacity over professional employees or business functions
  • For setting up a new office, whether the transferee has been an executive or manager for the company for at least one continuous year within the preceding three years
  • For setting up a new office, whether an actual physical location has already been secured such as through a lease or purchase agreement

In addition to intracompany transfers, we will continue to post information about immigration issues that arise for those in Vancouver seeking to enter the U.S. for a variety of purposes.