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Questions and Answers About L-1 Visas and Green Cards

Law Offices of Yu & Associates

Question: We are a company based in the Netherlands who would like to start a subsidiary in the US. What is the shortest time we can do this in and what documentsare required? Which type of US company has the lowest tax rates and costs? If we later want to apply for L-1 visas for our employees, are there any requirements for annual income or number of employees? What kind of documentation is needed for an L-1 visa?

Attorney Yu: It usually takes about 3 to 10 business days to set up a company in the US, unless you use expedited processing. The processing times vary by state. The documents needed to set up a company in the US are not complicated. We can provide you with detailed guidance and a list of required documents. Which type of company is best for you should be decided on an individual basis after careful analysis. If you are just setting up a company in the US, there are no requirements for annual income or number of employees at your parent company in the Netherlands, only that your parent company has the need to develop business in the US and is able to effectively do business in the US. Specific documents which are needed for L-1 include: the parent company's registration documents; business licenses or permits; financial reports; employee and work assignments; company organizational chart; and materials introducing the company.

Question: To set up a company in New York, do we need to rent office space? How are the taxes? Will we need to employ locals? Will we need to pay salaries and taxes in both the Netherlands and the US? What is the minimum monthly tax for a manager in the US?

Attorney Yu: When you first set up a company in the US, you need to have an address for your company. The US government encourages entrepreneurship, therefore the scope of what's considered a business is rather broad. But if you wish to apply for L-1 visas as a multinational company, then you do need a dedicated business location. Tax liabilities for individuals and business depend on many factors; it's not something that can be easily answered. Basically, however, both individuals and businesses must pay taxes at both the Federal (national) and state level. Once the company is set up, you should hire an accountant/CPA to handle your tax matters and forms. Your US subsidiary company can employ US citizens or green card holders, or you can apply for work visas such as H1 visas for alien workers. Whether you need to pay salaries and taxes in both the US and the Netherlands will depend on your company's financial and tax planning.

Question: Can this sort of new start-up company apply for an L-1A visa? If so, what's the shortest possible time for processing the application?

Attorney Yu: If you meet the requirements, then you could apply. With Premium Processing, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will decide on the petition in 15 days. With regular processing, it usually takes three to six months to receive a decision.

Question: If one applies for a green card from L-1 status, is the green card conditional or full permanent resident status?

Attorney Yu: After the US subsidiary company has been in operation for one year, the L-1 employee can apply for a green card, and this green card is not conditional; it provides permanent resident status.

Question: So if we obtain an L-1A visa, then one year later we can apply for a green card? Do the materials needed for green card application include the parent company's performance record? And what requirements does USCIS have for the performance of the US subsidiary company?

Attorney Yu: Information on the parent company's performance is required for the L-1 visa petition, and also for the green card petition, although for the latter the US subsidiary company's performance is more important. The petitioning company needs to present evidence to prove its performance, and USCIS will look at whether the company is operating normally and consistently growing its business.

Question: Does the existence of the subsidiary company depend on the parent company abroad? What if we close or sell the parent company in the Netherlands? Will this affect the US subsidiary or our green card application?

Attorney Yu: Changes to the parent company will affect the continuation of the L-1 visa or green card application, but we would need to analyze the particulars of the situation. You need to show both the parent company and the subsidiary are doing business regularly.

Question: Will the L-1 employee's English language skills affect the extension of an L-1A visa or application for a green card?

Attorney Yu: If the employee's English is good enough for daily life and running the business, then it should not affect the L-1 visa or green card application much.

Question: We plan to send someone to the US for about two months this spring on a B-1 visa to do a preliminary survey of the market and prepare for setting up the US company. In those two months we also hope to establish the company and set up personal bank accounts. After we've obtained an L-1A visa, we plan to return to the Netherlands to work things out on this end, and after that return to the US. Is this workable? Or what method should we use for setting up a company in the US?

Attorney Yu: There are two possible ways. You can stay abroad until the company is set up and your L-1 visa is approved and then enter the US in L-1 status, or you can come to the US as a visitor to set up the company and change to L-1 status in the US. The key point is whether your company can provide the required documentation for the L-1 petition (including the parent company's documentation). Please see our office's website for detailed information on the required documentation.

Question: The performance of the company in the Netherlands doesn't look very good. It is operating at a loss. In this kind of situation, will it be very difficult to obtain an L-1A visa?

Attorney Yu: If your financial situation is weak, you have to improve the performance of the business and to show that your company is operating normally and has the capability to develop business in the US. When the time comes, we will make a detailed analysis of your situation and guide you through the process.

The above is a general introduction to immigration policies, and should not be construed as individual legal advice. For specific legal questions, please contact the Law Offices of Yu & Associates. Attorney Xiaohui (Sharon) Yu is a graduate of New York University School of Law, one of the top five law schools in the US, and has practiced law at some of the top firms in the US, UK and China.

Tel: 301-838-8986, Fax: 202-595-1918; E-mail:, Address: 110 N. Washington St., Suite 328E, Rockville, MD 20850. (All rights reserved.)

Ó Yu & Associates LLC, 110 North Washington Street, Suite 328E, Rockville, MD 20850, USA. Tel: 301-838-8986