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Calgary immigration lawyer Evelyn Ackah explains L-1 visas for Canadian citizens who qualify for an intracompany transfer to a U.S. company.
The L-1 visa allows Canadian citizens who have worked for a Canadian entity for at least 12 months in the past 3 years to transfer to a related US entity in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge role. The L-1 visa can be processed at the border for Canadian citizens, and spouses of L-1 visa holders are eligible to work in the US. The fees for L-1 visas are expected to increase in May or soon after, so it is recommended to apply sooner rather than later. Ackah Law can assist with L-1 visa applications.
Here are some of the key points from the discussion:
- Canadian citizens who have worked for a Canadian entity for at least 12 months in the past 3 years are eligible for the L-1 visa.
- The L-1 visa allows Canadian citizens to transfer to a related US entity in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge role.
- The L-1 visa can be processed at the border for Canadian citizens.
- Spouses of L-1 visa holders are eligible to work in the US.
- The fees for L-1 visas are increasing soon, so it is recommended to apply sooner rather than later.
- Ackah Law can assist with L-1 visa applications.
About Evelyn Ackah
Evelyn Ackah is the Founder and Managing Lawyer at Ackah Business Immigration Law. We work with individuals and business owners from all over the world who want to cross borders seamlessly. For more information on immigration to Canada or the United States, Ask Evelyn Ackah at Ackah Business Immigration Law today at (403) 452‑9515 or email Evelyn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ask Canada Immigration Lawyer Evelyn Ackah podcast by Calgary Immigration Lawyer Evelyn Ackah was named #1 Best Canada Immigration Podcast in 2022 by Feedspot.
Good day everyone. It's Evelyn Ackah from Ackah Business Immigration Law. I hope you're doing well. Today, on our LinkedIn Live, we're going to be focusing on L-1 visas. We do a lot of L-1 visas here in Canada to the US under the NAFTA, the new NAFTA category, and it's a wonderful category for those who qualify. So if you're interested in knowing if you qualify for an L-1 visa, this is the LinkedIn Live for you. Let's focus on only those that are Canadian citizens. So for this LinkedIn Live, I'm going to be focusing on Canadian citizens applying and qualifying for the L-1 visa.
The L-1 visa, if you're not familiar, is the category for those people who are doing an intercompany transfer to the United States from Canada. And so this is based on two things. You've worked in Canada for the Canadian entity. You must have worked for a Canadian entity that's related to the US business for at least 12 months within three years. And this is such a strange thing because it means that if you worked for 12 months and then left the company and you came back in that three year period, you would still qualify for the L-1 because it's based on having one year work experience in a three-year period with the Canadian entity. So that's something you should know. And the L-1 is also focused on people who have either specialized knowledge experience or who have executive and managerial experience, so the L-1 A is the category for executive senior managerial experience tied to the position and you're going to a similar managerial executive position in the United States.
Or the L-1B is for those people who are working in the category of working as specialized knowledge workers. So that again, you've been with the company for at least 12 months and your role in Canada was specialized. There is proprietary information, you've got a unique skillset and now you're being transferred to the United States to work for the US entity as a similar specialized knowledge role. So this is the category that we do a lot of work with as well. For people who may not have lots of education but have lots of experience that specialized, the L-1B is a great category. So first things first, you must be a Canadian citizen. You cannot qualify for the NAFTA L-1 if you're a permanent resident. If you're a permanent resident, then you're doing the L-1 as somebody who's not in Canada basically processing, which will take longer and has much more scrutiny because it's being processed at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services offices, and it could take months. And these ones that are not NAFTA, they can't be processed at the Port of Entry.
So one of the value adds of being a Canadian is that we are able to apply for L-1 visas right at the airport or the border. I always say I prefer the airport as you're flying to the United States at the airport. And so they might take an hour or so to review your package, they'll approve it right there, and you will leave with your work permit approval for up to three years either it's an L-1A or an L-1B. So unlike the TN visa, which we talked about last week, which is focused on mostly education and having a professional degree, the L-1 does not require education. It requires experience, and it requires you in the role similar to what you're transferring to. And so we recommend this for people who may have been senior people in the organization but may not have a degree or they want to move to the States to grow the Canadian entity. This is what the L-1 is for. And then they're able to grow the business because they're working for a related entity. And then sometimes they're able to move from L-1 to green card.
I want to talk to you about the terms as well for the L-1. So the first L-1, let's say you already have an entity there, you can get up to three years. The L-1B only allows you to have a total of five years, and the L-1A allows you to have a total of seven years. I tell clients regularly that if they're not moving permanently to live in the States under the L, but we'll be going back and forth across the border, any time they spend outside of the United States, they can recapture. So we've done in the past L-1 extensions up to nine or 10 years because the people did not live in the states and did not spend full time there. So that's something for you to think about.
Sometimes it's hard to get green card status based on maybe the size of the business is not as large as you'd like it to be. And when they're looking at green card, they're looking at salary, size of business, how many layers of leadership, et cetera. And so therefore, it makes it a little challenging sometimes for people to get a green card. So knowing that you can extend your L-1 for a year or two or possibly three is a real value added so long as you qualify. We recently did a blog at Ackah Law about the fact that the fees are going up considerably for L-1s. So if you're interested in doing an L-1 Visa, I highly recommend you contact us and we get started now because soon the price is almost doubling. It's going up significantly. It's all US dollars for the government processing fees, and so we want to help save you some money. If you'd like to get started sooner than later, please give us a call at Ackah Law.
The other thing to think about is what happens when you have a spouse going with you on the L-1. Unlike the TN Visa where spouses cannot work as dependents, the L-1 spouses are able to work, and this is a huge value added because now even better, they don't longer need the employment authorization document as a separate document after they get their L-2. Spouses now, when they get their L-2s at the Port of Entry, that allows them to work for any US employer immediately without going through the hoops of applying for a second application for an employment authorization document. So these are really great changes that affect people because it makes life easier for them to be together in the United States. Spouses can find jobs, they can open bank accounts, they can get social security numbers, kids can go to school. It just makes the whole process an easier thing when you're planning a transfer of one of your employees, and you want to make sure that everybody in the family is happy, so being able to work is a big deal for the spouse.
The other thing to think about is in the US, for the most part, they want spouses to be married. We've been able to get some people through who are unmarried but are common law for a long time and have children together, but it's still very traditional when it comes to the L is generally they want you to be reflected as a married couple. And so sometimes people will just go get married even if they've been together forever just to make life easier. Otherwise, you might have to involve a longer process then could be done at the Port Entry. So I'm hoping that if you're thinking you might qualify for the L-1, you'll reach out to me and my team at Ackah Business Immigration Law, and we can see if you'll qualify. Again, sometimes we also work with companies, we're doing this all right now who want to expand into the United States, so they're setting up a brand new entity. And we always recommend tax advice, which we can also refer you to some great cross-border tax specialists. And then they're setting up their new entity, incorporating, et cetera.
So in the US, they usually have something called the new office L-1, which is the first time L-1, and they make you usually just get one year at that first time and then you come back after your first year to renew again. So there are lots of different strategies to work well and be successful. If you're interested in moving to the States, expanding to the states, or doing more and more business in the United States, the L-1 Visa may be the ideal visa for you, and we hope that you'll give us a call at the number below so that we can assist you with your immigration needs here at Ackah Business Immigration Law. I'd like to thank you so much for joining us for this LinkedIn Live. And again, the phone number to contact us, (403) 452-9515 or contact us at Ackahlaw.com. Thank you so much and we'll talk to you later. Bye-bye.