Expanding your Danish Business to the U.S.: Start with a Transfer (L Visa)

By Beau Russell

In my last post, I covered one way to take your Danish business in the United States, the E2 visa. As a quick recap, the E2 visa allows you to send yourself (as the business owner) or an employee to the United States to oversee an investment in to a new or existing company. I mentioned that in order to obtain the E2 visa, you must invest a substantial amount of capital ($50,000-$100,000+) into the United States. But what if you don’t have that amount of money to invest? It may be the case that you have a thriving business but you just aren’t ready to risk that amount of capital. It may be the case where you want to be more cautious in your approach.

Thankfully there is another visa option for those unwilling to risk that amount of cash. The L1 Intra-Company Transfer visa allows a Danish business to transfer an employee to the United States if the company and employee meet certain requirements. To obtain this visa, the intending employee must be a manager, executive or have specialized knowledge and have been employed for at least one year in the previous three years at the Danish company. As for the companies, the two companies (one in Denmark and one in United States) must be “related” and the American entity must be able to support the new position.

This begs the question: What if I don’t have a U.S. company to receive the employee? Well, an important aspect of this visa is that it can be used to open a new office (start a related business). So again we have arrived at a stage where it is required that the U.S. business be set up in a way that follows the U.S. visa requirements. But like the last time, we can use these visa requirements to guide us in forming U.S. venture. We can see that the business must be formed on paper and have a physical presence in the United States. We also see that the business must have certain “business basics” in place e.g. bank account and business plan.

I know, I said that this visa provides an alternative to those who don’t want to invest. Well unless the business is already up and running, there is some investment involved. Because you have to be ready conduct business and support the transferred employee, the business needs things like an office space and some money in the bank. But again there is no fixed amount that needs to be already spent. Remember, the E2 visa requires that you spend the $50,000-$100,000 already, for example on a car and computers. For purposes of the L1 the company simply needs to have the capacity to support the transferred employee and a place for her to work.

To summarize, once the business is established and ready for business, an employee in a managerial/executive position or who has specialized knowledge that has been working with the Danish company for at least a year can come to the U.S. to start the company. We again can use the requirements of the visa to make concrete steps to thrive in the United States. And very lastly, this visa (as well as spouses of E2) allows spouses of the visa holder to work anywhere in the United States.

Once again, this is a simplified explanation of the process and it is highly advisable for business owners to include qualified attorneys at the initial planning stages. At Thomas Martin Law, we can assess your business venture and set out the step by step process it takes to transfer yourself as the business owner or an employee to the U.S. We have experience in each step of the process from business formation to immigration visas and beyond. We have a unique perspective because we are both Danish and American attorneys who have helped countless individuals take their business abroad. We can walk you through the steps it takes to take your business or idea to the U.S. and set you up to follow your American dream.

Beau Russell is a U.S. Immigration attorney located in the Copenhagen Area. For the past several years in California he has helped hundreds of individuals solve their U.S. Immigration issues. He is now working with Thomas Martin Law. His specialty is assisting business and families obtain their immigration visas to the U.S.

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