Those who serve as a manager of a business located outside of the U.S.A. and who are transferred to a business in the U.S.A. as a manager or executive may qualify for a L-1 visa if the foreign and U.S. business are linked by 50% or more common ownership. Those who fall under this definition qualify for the L1A visa for managerial transferees. The L-1A visa may be extended for a total of 7 years and is easily converted to a green card.
The L1A visa was designed to permit multinational corporations to assign managerial staff to foreign operations. Small business may also take advantage of the L1A.
Suppose Mr. Smith owns a real estate development company in the UK. This company employs three full time staff and has gross sales of about $500,000 USD. This would be the smallest size company that should attempt the Two Step. Mr. Smith decides to open a U.S. subsidiary company to engage in a similar business. Mr. Smith incorporates a company in the U.S., and makes plans to develop a small apartment complex. Mr. Smith hires at least one staff. Mr. Smith now may transfer himself to manage and establish the US operation using the L1A visa. INS will grant Mr. Smith an initial validity period of one year. After one year of doing business in the US Mr. Smith may extend the L1A for an additional three year period and he can apply for his green card. Mr. Smith could have hired people to establish his US business and after one year of doing business in the US applied for his green card from the UK without obtaining the L1A.
The key points to the Two Step are:
- 50% common control between the US and foreign company
- Applicant served as a manager with foreign company for one of three years prior to transfer to US as L1
- After one year of doing business in the US whether or not the applicant has an L1 one may apply for the green card.
- The L-1A visa includes spouse and dependents under 21 years of age. Spouses and dependents may not work in the US without a work visa but they may go to school.
This simply put, is the Two Step Method.
The Two Step permits the small businessman to earn his way to a green card with a minimum of capital, say $150,000 to establish an office, start his business and survive for a year, compared to the $500,000 minimum requirement for the investment green card. The obvious disadvantage is that one must be prepared to manage a business in a foreign land, hire foreign employees and more than likely spend a lot of time on airplanes.
The Two Step also permits virtually every managerial employee of a multinational company who is transferred to the US to obtain a green card. Just plan to file about six months in advance of the transfer. Even those white collar workers who don’t wish to live in the U.S. permanently may want a green card so their spouses can work in the US and so children can attend state supported universities at the lower local tuition rates.