L-1A Extension of Stay for E-Commerce Business

L-1A Extension of Stay for E-Commerce Business

  • Applicant: Mrs. Yoo*
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Case: L-1A Extension of Stay
  • Petitioner: Hair Product E-Commerce
  • Challenges:
    • Petitioner is a startup, so financial documents are unclear to show accomplishments since obtaining L-1A status.
    • Beneficiary has only been in the U.S. for 8 months to build the company from scratch.
    • Petitioner’s sales are entirely online, so it is difficult to explain why physical presence in the U.S. is necessary.
    • Petitioner only has 6 employees
    • Beneficiary’s work reports show that she was involved in producing a service and product

BACKGROUND

One year ago, Mrs. Yoo came to the United States from China hoping to start her own business, a hair product e-commerce company specializing in wigs.

When she first arrived, many of her colleagues who also came over from China already had their business visa requests denied. These friends owned much more established businesses than hers. Their companies possessed better funding, more employees, and more supervisors. All she had were six employees and a website. Mrs. Yoo began to panic. If those larger firms couldn’t make it in America, what chance did she have?

Nevertheless, she refused to surrender. She contacted multiple attorneys, asking for their help to ensure she would receive an L-1A visa, but none would assist her. Nobody would take a risk on an online shop owned by a woman with six employees.

Devastated that nobody would accept her case, Yoo nearly abandoned her dream. But before giving up, she decided to contact one last law firm. Through excellent reviews, she found Tsang & Associates and told us her story. She mentioned how every other law firm rejected her but clarified that she will pay whatever it takes to virtually guarantee her petition succeeded.

Despite the slim chance of success, we took the case. We informed her that, while we cannot assure success, we could raise the standard, and we quickly got her initial L1 visa approved. But now, the real work will begin.

Our team explained to Mrs. Yoo that in eight months, she must file for an extension of stay, a much more challenging request to get approved. She would need to prove that she built a successful business in that time, which meant she must document everything.

 

KEYS TO SUCCESS

During those eight months, Mrs. Yoo continued to witness her friends get rejected and deported, which terrified her. She invested so much time, money, and effort into this business, even leaving behind her home in China. “Was it all a waste?” she would ask herself, after a slow day of visiting hospitals, offering wigs to patients for free and spreading the word about her shop.

Still, she wanted to do everything in her power to succeed. If, after all her work, she still failed then so be it. At least she would have no regrets. Until then, however, she had work to do.

Mrs. Yoo took our advice to heart and maintained an exhaustive record of all the work her company accomplished. Unfortunately, because it was a startup, and because their sales were online, there weren’t many official financial documents we could share with USCIS. That made it hard to show how financially successful the business had become.

In addition, the records that Mrs. Yoo kept—emails, work reports, communications to and from China, etc.–that she performed duties that weren’t executive in nature. She communicated with customers and worked to find the right pricing for a product; activities that most managers do not take part in. That created a problematic situation because L-1 extensions only apply to executives. If an officer reads in the report that a person is doing non-executive work, they can use that as an excuse to deny a visa. So, Mrs. Yoo had a serious problem.

But our team promised to support her each step of the way, and we stayed true to that promise. We weren’t just a middleman between her and USCIS, nor did we simply give a checklist of what she needed, as many firms do. Rather, we raised the bar and worked closely with all six employees to help build the organization up and create the perfect case. We even offered some business ideas that would help them thrive.

When the moment arrived to apply for the extension, everything was in place. The lead attorney on the case put together the most extensive attorney brief we ever submitted for an L-1A. Not only did he thoroughly explain the work record to address the officer’s concerns, but he also provided a compelling argument for why Mrs. Yoo needed to be physically present in the US, even though her store was online. He explained what innovative plans the company had to partner with hospitals to provide wigs and beauty tutorials to people who lost their hair from cancer and old age. This plan, he argued, showed that the company would add a lot of value to the United States. Not just through their financial success, but through their charitable outreach as well.

Finally, the attorney brief gave a comprehensive description of the entire company. Every line, every introduction, reads like a pitch deck to an investor. The brief covered information about the parent company in China, and information about each employee, including their education credentials. It had a section on the future of the enterprise and the partnerships they had already formed. It also mentioned the work product, the milestones reached, the roles of each staff member, and the percentage of hours spent working. Any investor reading this would clearly understand what Mrs. Yoo’s company did and how it would succeed.

 

OUTCOME

Our attorney’s brief was so thorough and convincing that USCIS approved the extension in record time. One week after our office submitted it, we received a notice saying Mrs. Yoo’s request was granted. This situation was unheard of. Never had we seen a case approved in such a short period.

Today, the company is thriving as an online business, and soon Mrs. Yoo hopes to open her very own brick-and-mortar shop. She is grateful to our team for assisting her when nobody else would, and for going above and beyond to help her achieve her dream.

*Name changed to protect client privacy.