Complete Guide to the L-1A Visa to EB-1C Green Card Process

Everything You Need to Know About The L-1A Visa To EB-1C Green Card Process

Categories: Resources
Published: December 18, 2023

Tags: EB-1C | L-1A | Video

L-1A Visa to EB-1C Green Card Video Summaryy

In this comprehensive guide, Tsang & Associates attorney Joseph Tsang goes through the entire L-1A visa to EB-IC green card process, starting with an outline of the entire process and moving through the full requirements. This video covers essential topics such as which category is right for you, common reasons for denial AND how to avoid them, plus you’ll gain an understanding of the timeline required, and how both these visa categories are in line with the Buy American Hire American executive order. 

There is so much information covered here about the L-1A visa to EB-1C green card process. It is everything you need to know and more, based on years of experience with hundreds of clients. If you want to learn more about either visa category, take a look at our previous L-1A client success stories, or EB-IC success stories.

For assistance with an L-1A visa or EB-1C green card, contact us. We’d love to help you with a creative solution.

Full Video Transcript

Hi everyone, my name is Joseph. I’m the managing partner here at Tsang & Associates where we solve legal problems with creative solutions. 

So the legal problem is how do you qualify for the L-1A visa or the EB-1C, and is it the right visa category for you? We’ve created a whole series with all of these success story videos on L1A specifically and EB1C [success stories] specifically, but each of those stories is dealing with one case with its own unique challenges. In this video, we’re going to go through the overall big picture, so hopefully, you enjoy. Let’s get to it.

So the typical consultation always starts with the manager, the executive, or the owners of a particular foreign company. They want to come to the U.S. Either the company wants to send their executives over or the owners of those companies. They want to come over to the U.S themselves, and they want to come as fast as possible. They looked at other visa categories, and they really set their eyes on this one – the executive managerial visa. If you can prove that you are an executive overseas and you’re coming to the U.S to be an executive or a manager, then you can come to the U.S, and eventually, they want a green card.

What is the process like assuming we meet all the requirements? Well, typically, it takes about three months to six months from the idea, right? So yes, I want to do it great. Within one month, we set up the business. We incorporate. We have a lease agreement. We set up a bank account. Money gets transferred over. You start doing some basic interior design. You have a business plan. You have everything ready. Within about a month, a month and a half, we file it with USCIS, the whole L1A petition. Then once it gets approved with premium processing, then that, you immediately schedule an interview at the consulate, and that takes another maybe a month and a half to two months depending on the season. 

So the process itself, three months to six months. You file everything. You get the visa. You come to the U.S. Now, after you are here for one year, you need to file the L1A extension. That’s assuming if the business in the U.S. is brand new. If it’s already established, then you can get it for immediately two years, and after two years, you can file the extension. Now after the U.S. company has been around for one year, it’s still very much a baby company, but after one year and it is large enough – we’ll get to that, what does it mean to be large enough to sustain an executive or manager – but once you meet that threshold and it’s been around for one year, then you can file the EB-1C. Do the premium processing, and the entire family can get the green card approval. 

So that is the entire journey. We’ve helped hundreds of clients go through this entire process – first incorporate the company, bring the entire family over on the L-1, eventually file EB-1C. The whole family gets a green card and then they can continue continuously to bring other executives, other managers, other board of directors from their foreign company over to the U.S. because you’ve built out this bridge, this intracompany transfer visa, and EB-1C petition.

Now, what are the requirements and pitfalls? Well, I’m going to go through each one of these. Now in order to do that, well, we looked through all of our requests for evidence that we’ve gotten over the years, challenging every single requirement. What does USCIS really want? The first thing we want to tackle is the new office. So how does USCIS determine if your new office, your L1 is a real L1 or if it’s fake, and they’re not going to approve it? We actually won an [L1] appeal case – me personally, I’m very proud of this one because the client’s L1 case got denied over and over and over again. It was done by two other law firms before then transferred it over to us. We filed a typical one, and that got denied, and then we just immediately sued the government, and then the AO immigration judges agreed with our argument, rebuked USCIS, and had them reverse the entire case.

What were they challenging? They were challenging the office lease. In denial after denial after denial, they kept on saying your office lease is too small; it’s only a couple of hundred square feet; you can’t sustain an international company. And they really focused on that point, and we went at length rebutting that argument. Yes, it’s a small office, but it’s a new office. They just set up and look at the global scale of this company; they’re going to expand. Let them come in for a year, build up their employee account, and then expand. Why challenge a case purely on the square footage, right? And in this day and age, how many people are actually going into the office and sitting around anyway? So we filed the appeal, and we won.

Now what is the key takeaway about this new office requirement? If you just simply submit a lease agreement, an article of incorporation, and a business plan, that’s not really going to cut it with USCIS. They want to see more. What are your real plans in this entire year? What are the steps that you’re going to take? On top of the business plan, what about your marketing plan? What about your hiring plan? What about your executive vision? What are all the things that you have because it’s a lot of money in setting up a huge company in the U.S; you must have thought this through. You’re an executive; you’re a manager, right? This must have passed through multiple board meetings. 

Show all of these things. Don’t just show one or two, three basic documents. I’ve seen cases where it’s just like a business license and business insurance, and they expect, oh, it’s a new office to get this chance. Maybe this would have worked back in 2010, 2012, but USCIS has gotten a lot stricter on this issue. You really want to prove within one year you are going to expand, and you’re going to sustain an executive and manager within this one year span. And that’s honestly good practice anyways. 

I’ve seen so many cases where people just like, I want to file an L1, and then whoever is helping them says no problem. Fill out a form. File it. Get the L1 miraculously, and then after nine months, the L1 gets denied because they couldn’t get the extension because it wasn’t planned out right. They just simply got it, but then it didn’t work. And I feel like that’s a little bit irresponsible. The best thing to do if you’re doing an L1 case is map out the entire plan for five years. What is your ultimate goal? Do you want the green card with EB-1C? Well, let’s map that out in the original filing. So you file the L-1, and then you do the L-1A extension, and then you do the EB-1C.

Now let’s talk about what if it’s not a new office, what if it’s been around for seven months or a year and a half? What is considered new? What’s considered old? USCIS takes a pretty straightforward path.

If your company existed less than one year, it’s new. If it’s existed over one year, then you’re an old company. You’re not a new office anymore. You can’t set up a new office. We’ve done several success stories on this very issue because many foreign companies, they have a U.S. offices and U.S. companies, but they don’t want to transfer the executive over to that particular office. Then you have to explain to USCIS that this actually qualifies for the new office exception. If your company is less than one year, then we’ll grant you that exception you don’t have to do that much.

The second thing is about the one year rule. So a lot of people are confused about this. You need to prove that you are an executive or manager back in the foreign country for at least one year. Now there’s so many nuances to this, right? What if you work there for half a year, you quit, you come back? What if you worked there for one year and then you leave the company and then within six months the U.S. company hires you and then now you’re going to come over. Does that count? What if you were hired there for one year and then you come to the US and then eventually you go back and you work for another year? What if you just graduated and you’re 22 years old and you worked there for one year? Does that meet the requirements? 

So there’s a lot of these questions and it’s really important to go through the actual law. The overarching big idea is that you need to be an executive for an entire year. This could be split up. You could be overseas, but they want to count physical time in that foreign country. So if it’s split up, well then you need to add more time, right? And if you just graduated, well your entry level position is not exactly manager or executive, right? Unless, of course, you can prove even though you just graduated college you already elevate to a high level position and it’s not because of family. Not because you just got plopped there, but you actually earned it. Show me how. Show me your interview. Show me why the company needs this kid, a 22 year old, and immediately rising to an executive or managerial position in their company.

The third thing is about ownership and the affiliate relationship. You can’t just work at one big company and then want to come to the U.S. and work in another company. That’s just being employed. Everybody is employed, generally speaking. You need to show that you worked as an executive manager for one foreign company and they are transferring you over to the U.S. to run the U.S. branch. 

And so how are these two companies related? Generally, there’s three main methods. One way is for the U.S. company to own the foreign company – boom. Or you can make that foreign company own the U.S. company – boom. Or you make two companies owned by the same group of individuals that’s called an affiliation. So either one owner owns both companies. We see that very often. Or it’s a group of individuals or one main company that owns both. So there’s a lot of consideration when you’re planning out this L-1a or EB-1C. We’ve seen and we’ve helped companies buy out U.S. companies and then transfer over. We’ve helped U.S. companies buy out foreign companies. We’ve created entities and shareholder agreements so that one company owns multiple branches in the U.S. and overseas. So there’s a lot of merger and acquisition and after you transfer then you sell and then it’s another company that transfers. It’s very, very interesting but that is the requirement. You need to prove that the two entities where they worked at and where they’re going to work that they are affiliated.

Now, let’s talk about executive and managerial duties I want to say more than 50 percent of cases get denied because of this single issue. Now this issue is very broad because it applies to what are your executive and manager duties back in your home country. If you’re not an executive back there, well then you don’t qualify. And then the same exact rationale applies to the U.S. Are you going to be an executive or manager in the U.S.? If not, well then your case will be denied. 

Now, it’s not based on your title or your salary. Because if it is well it will be unfair. It will be skewed towards the companies that have higher salaries and higher title positions. You enter as a 22 year old and you’re already an Executive Vice President. Well then USCIS is not that easily fooled. You cannot trick USCIS by just giving yourself a high title with a high salary.

So what do you do on a day-to-day basis? What does your calendar look like? What are your core job descriptions? Of course what is your salary? Do you have stock options in the company, right? And what is your title? Who do you report to and who reports to you? And so you want to explain all of that well and not in an abstract random language like, I manage people or I’m responsible for the vision of the firm. Demonstrate your contribution to the company. 

In EB-1A you’re proving you are extraordinary and EB-1C you’re proving your role is extraordinary, right? You are an executive manager. It’s probably going to be very different than what you’re doing back in your home country and so whatever it is you want to document that well. The key thing to know is it doesn’t have to be the same. You could be managing a fashion company back in your home country and then you would come to the U.S. to manage a restaurant. It doesn’t matter as long as the two entities are both executive. 

And honestly, taking a step back, that’s why I love the U.S. immigration law because it’s the one simple set of laws that applies to every industry and around the whole world. I don’t know how many clients have asked me, is my case going to be denied because I’m too old? Is it okay if I change careers midway through? Is it okay that I’m an executive, but I’m a female? I’m always shocked when I hear this because we take it for granted. Of course, you can. You can do anything you want. Dream big. 

So the L-1A completely matches that sentiment regardless of your gender, your race, your ethnicity, your beliefs, as long as you are an extraordinary manager executive in your home country,  in your company, and then you’re going to come to the U.S. It doesn’t have to be the same. Pursue your dreams. We will grant you the visa to let it happen.

Now tangentially another thing that’s amazing about this is that there’s no hard requirement on your degrees. There are so many other requirements and all these other case categories but for the L-1A and EB-1C, you don’t even need to graduate high school because it recognizes there are amazing people in the world that don’t have high school degrees but they have achieved a stature that is unbelievable. 

Now conversely, if you just barely graduated college with like a 1.0 GPA and then you went back to your mom’s business and you worked there for one year and now you want to apply for the L-1A, good luck with that. The important thing is that your story has to make sense. What did you study? What are your capabilities and your skill sets, and what are your contributions? And how did you lead back in your home country and what are you going to do in the US? Make that story make sense because ultimately you are gonna go before a consular officer and you will have to present your case in truth, in honesty, and in persuasion. Just imagine that they are investing in your company. They are investing a million dollars in the form of a visa. Are they going to allow you to come to the U.S. to compete with all the foreign workers? Are you a good bet? If not, if you don’t seem like a good executive, then they might not want to approve that.

What about the wage? We’ve seen requests for evidence again and again saying a typical manager in your area gets paid $120,000, $150,000, $200,000. Why are you only getting paid forty thousand dollars? A lot of times they look at the wage and they want to challenge that. There’s a lot of ways to respond to this. It’s not a hard requirement that you have to get paid a certain amount. Obviously, the more you are paid the better, but there’s a tricky left hook on this issue because if you’re paid too high then the USCIS has to come back and challenge. Well do you have the ability to pay the salary, right? Because your company is too small, not enough customers, not enough revenue. I just don’t see how you can make it work. It sounds like a bogus business plan and you are saying you’re going to be paid $150,000, $200,000. I don’t think you have the ability to pay, so case denied. 

So you don’t want to get paid too much and you don’t want to get paid too little. You want to get paid on the sweet spot and you want to be able to tackle the ability to pay issue and the wage issue. So if you’re getting paid on the lower end be prepared to explain why. I am the founder. I have a hundred percent of the shares. I invested a million dollars in assets to fund this company. I don’t care about the salary. I’m trying to grow. You need to persuade USCIS why your salary is justified.

So obviously the more you know about how the US generally works you can reference pop culture, you can reference entrepreneurs of the past, but you need to educate the USCIS officer and persuade them. It’s not a hard and fast rule because every industry is different. Some industries are very high capital intensive to start something and so if you’re going to do a major retail chain and you’re going to invest a lot in opening up all these stores, the remodeling cost is going to be humongous. So downgrading your own salary and increasing your perks and as well as your stock options, well, that might make sense. 

There’s other companies that you have a low salary but you have a high bonus because you do a lot of sales as an executive. That makes sense. Explain to the officer exactly what’s going on and why. Here in our company, we don’t just give a random checklist to all our clients because one size doesn’t fit all. You’re selling shoes and selling airplanes is a completely different business. So we listen. We understand exactly what your reason is. We tell you what the law is and together we form the perfect case.

The last thing I want to talk about is the Buy American Hire American memo. A lot of people see this and they’re like, oh, L1s are never going to be approved again, right, because we don’t want to hire foreign workers. We just want to hire Americans. 

That is not what the purpose of that memo is. The purpose of that memo is to bring jobs back in the U.S. to stimulate and to hire workers. The unemployment rate is right now super low in the U.S. There’s still such a huge demand to continuously improve the U.S. economy and there’s so many things to do. The U.S workers cannot do everything. So we need to hire from abroad, bring them here, and to hire more workers to actually get things done. That is the purpose of that memorandum. Bring in an executive to the U.S. does exactly that thing right. Because you bring an executive here to hire more U.S. workers to get the job done. 

There’s so much more I could talk about L-1A and EB-1C, I could go on and on. It’s been my honor to speak at AILA on these specific issues. We’ve written articles; we’ve done conferences, and you know there’s just so much. If you have any questions about L-1A, about EB-1C, about L-1B to L-1A to Eb-1C, about L-1A to E-2 back to L-1A to EB-1C, or just directly do an EB-1C because you don’t want to come to the U.S, you just directly want to walk in with a green card. All of these things are possible. Would love to talk to you about it. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. Take care. Bye.