L-1 Visa for Canadian Citizens

Canadians can transfer to a U.S. company or open a new office with an L-1 visa

L-1 Visa for Canadian Citizens

Transferring to a U.S. company

The L-1 visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer a manager or an executive from an affiliated Canadian office to one of its U.S. offices. The employer must be doing business in the U.S. and it must have an existing relationship with the Canadian company (such as being a parent company, affiliate, subsidiary etc.). Furthermore, the employee must have been working for the affiliated employer in Canada for at least one year in the three years prior to applying for an L-1 visa, and he/she must be going to the U.S. to render services as a manager/executive. Employees will be granted an initial three-year L-1 visa.

L-1 Visa examples

Example:  AccountCo is an accounting company with offices in Canada and in the United States. Sally is a Canadian citizen who has been working as a financial accounting director at AccountCo’s Vancouver offices for the past four years. She accepted a position to work as a financial accounting director at AccountCo’s New York office. AccountCo USA can file a petition to transfer her to New York under an L-1 visa.

Example:  Sally has only been working as a financial accounting director at AccountCo in Vancouver for the past six months. She is not eligible for an L-1 visa to work in the New York office. However, she may be eligible for a TN visa or an H-1B visa if she is a CPA or has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

L-1 new office visa

The L-1 visa also allows a Canadian company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a manager/executive to the United States for the purpose of setting one up. To do so, the Canadian employer must demonstrate that: 1) sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured; 2) the employee has been employed as a manager/executive for one of the three previous years; and 3) the new U.S. offices will support an executive/managerial position within a year of the L-1 visa being issued. These employees will be granted an initial one-year L-1 visa. This is an ideal visa for Canadians looking to expand to the United States and should be considered as an alternative to the E-2 visa.

Can spouses of L-1 visa holders work in the U.S.?

Spouses under L-1 visas may live in the U.S. in L-2 status. They are also eligible to apply for employment authorization – permitting them to seek employment without any restrictions.

Can children of L-1 visa holders live in the U.S.?

Children of L-1 visa holders can live in the U.S. in L-2 dependent status. However, they are not permitted to work.