L-1A for Hemp Company
- Client: Jessica
- Nationality: China
- Adjudicated By: USCIS
- Industry: Hemp and hemp related products
- Company: Startup, established in 2017
- Position: President and CEO
- Case: L-1A First Filing,
- The Beneficiary had little to no experience in the field she hoped to manage.
- The foreign company was engaged in a different kind of business than the proposed American subsidiary.
- Business had a controversial business plan involving hemp and hemp related products.
- The Beneficiary had an educational background that was not matched with her proposed job duties.
- The Beneficiary had a complex travel history.
- The Beneficiary had been warned by the CBP not to continue returning to the United States, and that only under an L-1A status could she return to the US.
- The company had only hired one employee by the time the case was filed.
- There was only a 51% ownership from the parent company, representing a small total investment of about $60,000. The Beneficiary herself contributed the rest of the investment
Sometimes, clients will be reluctant to pursue a case because they do not have expertise in a field. In many cases, the petitioning organization may be reluctant to pursue a new office in the United States if the new office is engaged in a different kind of business from what is performed at the overseas office. However, inexperience should not prevent a client from pursuing their dreams and business goals. This is exactly what happened for a client who had worked for a curtain and decorating company in China, but who wished to open a US subsidiary specializing in the US hemp industry. This case had several unique challenges. In addition to the proposed US subsidiary selling a different kind of product from the Chinese side, the beneficiary in this case had an educational background that was different from her proposed job duties. The overall US company was the recipient of a small investment, and the beneficiary herself had fronted a part of the investment. Additionally, the beneficiary had a long history of coming to the United States under a B-2 tourist visa to conduct business meetings in the United States, sometimes for as much as six months at a time. CBP had warned her that this was not a proper utilization of B-2 visas and advised her that if she wished to continue coming to the United States, she would need to find a new visa category so as to continue doing business in the United States.
After the beneficiary came to us seeking help, we decided that the best option for her would be to file under an L-1A international manager and executive transferee.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
The key to overcoming the many of the weaknesses in this case was in the business plan. The business plan was designed by our office to give a plausible story of the future success of the business, and the beneficiary’s role as being absolutely essential to the company’s success.
The China side of the business focused on curtains and home furnishings, while the new US business would focus on hemp and hemp products. In the business plan and company letters that we helped draft, we focused on the fact that the US company had attained over $200,000 in assets and $150,000 in sales, even before the beneficiary’s transfer. We also highlighted the professional background of the beneficiary and her successful career as a vice president of sales and executive decision maker with the parent company. Additionally, we explained the unorthodox incongruence in product focus between the Chinese and US sides of the company by explaining that the company had performed extensive market analysis in the US and was convinced that hemp would provide a lucrative business opportunity to expand their business and corner a significant new market share in a growing new business.
The business plan was also key to demonstrating that the fact that the company only had one employee was not a unique reason to deny the case. The business plan laid out a plan to hire more than five new workers over the course of the year, and the beneficiary would be leading the effort to hire, train, and manage them. We were also able to demonstrate, through the use of financial tables, market analysis, and projections that the business would be ultimately successful despite a small investment from the parent company of only $60,000. As for the client’s complicated travel history of coming to the United States on extended visits with B-2 visas, we argued that those visits were necessary to lay the groundwork for a successful business in the United States.
In the end it took less than four weeks after the second filing for the entire case to be approved.
*Name has been changed to protect client identity.