Are you applying for the L1 visa? If YES, here is a sample template on how to write a business plan for L1 visa program that is immigration compliant.
What is a L1 Visa?
The L1 visa is a temporary visa for individuals who do not want to immigrate permanently but want to become business owners, managers, or specialized knowledge employee. The L1 visa being an employment-based non-immigrant visa, it is also a “dual intent” visa. This simply means that an L1 visa holder and their dependents may apply for permanent residency without jeopardizing their L visa status.
There are many requirements for anyone looking to secure this visa. For instance, the business owner or employee must have worked for the subsidiary, head or branch office or affiliate office for at least one continuous year. The year that they were employed must be within the past three years.
Also, the U.S. company must be the parent, branch or affiliate company of the overseas company that the business owner or employee will be coming from. Note that when it comes to the L-1A Visa, it’s a particularly efficient way for small companies or even start-ups to expand their market to the United States.
Why Apply for an L1 Visa?
By leveraging this visa, a business owner (or part-owner), manager, or highly-qualified member of staff (with specialized knowledge) can come over and set up the new subsidiary exactly to the company’s specifications, making sure that standards are maintained and followed from the get-go.
Another marvellous thing about an L1 Visa is that you are also allowed to bring over your spouse and any children that you have, but your spouse will be granted an L-2 visa, allowing them to work for any company in the United States. Additionally, any of your dependent children who are under the age of 21 would also be granted an L-2 visa, allowing them to work or study while they are living temporarily in the U.S.
But just like many other types of visas offered by the U.S. Immigration Service, the L1 Visa is subject to strenuous scrutiny, particularly for smaller businesses or new start-ups. Although big multinational corporations or household names may only need a letter from the company director or minimal information to secure this kind of visa, this is not really the case for younger or less known businesses.
You should also understand that during the processing stages of this visa, providing a professional, well-written business plan detailing your expansion to the United States will greatly improve your chances of approval. With this business plan, you can show the U.S. Immigration Services (USCIS) that you mean business. Not only can this kind of plan be helpful for your immigration application, but it can also be helpful to your company as a whole.
How to Write a Winning Business Plan for L1 Visa Program That is Immigration Compliant
The L1 visa was established to allow companies to transfer employees from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States under certain conditions. It is divided in 2 types: The L1a visa allows the transfer of an acknowledged executive or manager to the company’s US office, while the L1b visa makes it possible for an employee with a special knowledge relating to the organization’s interests to be transferred.
There also is the L2 visa that is intended for the family of an L1 visa beneficiary. Agreeably, the L1 visa requirements may seem very hard at first, but they can be met with a well-developed L1 Visa Business Plan. Below is a guide on how to achieve this aim.
- Obtain necessary documents
Being equipped with all necessary supporting documentation is the most vital step in the L-1 Visa business plan writing process. It will be much easier to write the plan once you have gathered all of the documents. To write a detailed L-1 business plan, you will need the following documentation:
- Lease or deed agreement if you are planning on renting business space, or buy-sell agreement if you are using company-owned business space
- Foreign company’s financial statements for each of the past three years
- Current organizational chart of the foreign company and expected organizational chart of the U.S. company in year 5
- Business buy-sell agreement if you are purchasing an existing business, or franchise agreement if you are purchasing a franchise
- Articles of incorporation or articles of organization depending on whether your firm is a corporation or a limited liability company
- Resume of the applicant and resume of employees already hired and occupying management positions
- List of capital invested by the applicant including expenses already incurred and the working capital remaining
- Tone, Structure, Grammar, and Proofreading
You have to understand that what is said in the business plan and how it’s said is very vital when it comes to the success of your immigration business plan. So to complete your business plan at the optimal level, follow the following guidelines:
- When company is already in operation, use present tense; if not, use future tense
- Stay away from passive language and use active verbs instead
- Use concise sentences
- Do not use contractions
- Do not use familiar or slang words
- Always use the third person when speaking of the applicant
- Company should be addressed as “Company, LLC” or “Company, Inc.”
- Try to include photos of the company’s location, website, social media sites, flyers, etc.
- Let someone else proofread it.
- Executive Summary
Have it in mind that executive summary is the first thing that the application reviewer will go through. The executive summary needs to be concise and well prepared as it is a summary of the entire immigration business plan.
Executive summaries are usually one to four pages long they list: the nature of the company, expansion strategy, target market, marketing strategy, and number of employees. To prepare the best executive summary, you should answer the following questions in your executive summary:
- When was the business created?
- Who are the business’ owners?
- What does the business do?
- Where is the business located?
- What is the business’ mission?
- What is the business’ expansion strategy?
- Who is the business’ target market?
- What is the business’ marketing strategy?
- What does the business’ foreign parent or affiliate company do?
- How many employees are there?
- Foreign Executive Summary
Note that your foreign executive summary is expected to include the foreign company’s business model, history, and market position. The objective of this section is to give the USCIS an overview of the parent company’s activities, to prove it is financially stable, and to show how it is able to grow and sustain a business in the United States.
The same questions that were presented in the main executive summary should be answered for the foreign executive summary.
You should also add information or photos regarding the products or services offered by the foreign company, describe its position in the marketplace, quickly outline its competitors, and describe its expansion strategy for the next five years.
Additionally, you should include information about the foreign business’ revenue growth over the last five years, its net worth, its employee count, and any awards or national certificate.
Also, if you want to further improve your foreign company’s summary you can include information about the foreign company’s industry and market in its country. Although this is not necessary, it will show that the foreign company is in a growing industry and has a strong and sustainable potential for future growth.
- Choice of Location
Location is everything when it comes to your business and this must be reflected in your immigration business plan. Your choice of location is sometimes the ultimate marker of success for a business and may bring a massive change in customer base. That is why showing that you have already signed or entered a lease gives credit to your business. This is also one of the most important factors that an immigration officer looks for in your plan.
Do not forget to use the information in your lease agreement, deed agreement, or buy-sell agreement to show the address where the business will operate, the premises, the square footage, and if it is an office with storage space. Also, note that the square footage of an office cannot be less than 500 square feet.
If you have a professional photo of the location or if you have renovated, you should include them here as well. You may also add the date the lease was signed, the length of the lease, with which company the leased was signed, the yearly base rate, and the yearly increase rate.
- Business Ownership
This particular information is very crucial in a business plan because it tells the immigration officer the number of people with decision-making power within the company. Leverage the information in the articles of incorporation or the articles of organization to complete this section. From an immigration point of view, it is necessary that the applicant proves majority ownership over the company.
Also note that this section should also show the company’s ownership structure (Limited Liability Company, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc.), the date of incorporation, and details about the owner. Any graphics that show investments of each shareholder is also a great way to show the immigration officers a clear and concise layout of ownership and structure of the company.
- Products and Services
This very important sector is expected to include a short description of your business, the products and/or services your business offers, as well as a description of your business’ suppliers. Below is more detailed information for each of these three sections.
- Business description: Have it in mind that writing a short description of your business can be hard, but it is necessary for you to summarize what you do in just a few sentences — similar to an elevator pitch. Do not provide too much information about the business offerings here, but instead focus on the overall goal, mission, and reason that the company exists in as few, concise, and descriptive sentences as possible.
- Offerings description: Here the sole aim is to explain the offerings your company will provide, as well as the ways in which the company will deliver its offerings. No matter the size of your product and service offerings list, you want to create simple and understandable categories.
For each offering category, you must list and provide a description of your company’s products or services, include examples of specific products or services, and write why each specific product or service answers a need for the targeted market.
- Suppliers’ description: How important your business’ suppliers are depends on what you are offering and what your activity is.
If you know who your suppliers will be, you should mention them, as this improves your chances of getting approved. Do not forget to emphasize on why your business will be successful based on your relationship with the suppliers. If you have an exclusive distribution contract with your supplier, this is a great thing to indicate as well.
- Industry Analysis
This sector of the business plan gives the application reviewer a full grasp of the industry the company that will be operating within. Make sure your industry analysis include trends of the industry over the last five years how it has evolved, its current state, and the industry forecast for the next five years.
The industry analysis section should also include data about the industry’s annual sales, yearly growth rates, sales forecasts for the next five years, and a summary about the industry’s future.
Don’t forget that the aim of this section is to show that there is an environment where your company can grow within its industry. Generally, you will want to edit out any negative data, statistics, or anecdotes about the industry that your company is operating within, and make sure to really highlight the positive aspect.
- Business market
You will have to use this sector to show that you know who your customers and clients are, and that you have a good idea of who you will target. These things will show that you understand your business and will give you a leg up when it comes to the immigration officer reading your application.
In the beginning of this section, you should list which state, city, and neighbourhood your company will be located, describe the median income or poverty level, and indicate if and how the city is ideal for the type of business you will establish.
Be sure to present the average annual revenue per business for firms operating in the same industry and area as your company. This will show that your company has the potential to generate revenue and that there will be a demand for the type of products or services that your company will offer.
- Direct and Indirect Competitors
You need to understand that one of the major features of workable business plans is thorough analysis of competitors to the company and showing how the company will outperform the competitors. It should include a table comparing the business to its competitors.
The table should summarize each competitor’s executive summary, the products and services offered the average price, the targeted audience, the segmentation of the products and services offered, and the company’s ability to specialize and improve its efficiency. Don’t forget to add a small section at the end of the competition section that highlights your business’ advantages over its competitors.
Note that the key aim of this section is to show that the company will succeed in its location and will be able to surpass its competitors. You can also list the competitors that the parent company faced in the country of origin, as some may differ from the United States.
- Promotion and Marketing Strategies
Marketing strategy is very crucial in helping you reach and attract your target market. Presently, online marketing is the key focus of many marketing strategies. But, there are several forms of marketing strategies that must be considered. Below is a list and short description of these strategies:
- Search Engine Optimization: Search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns help a website to appear on the first page of results when typing certain words into a search engine such as Google or Yahoo.
- Social Media: hashing a website is no longer enough to market your business. There are target markets on every social media network and they are waiting to be engaged. Social media has many advantages, such as directly conversing with your target market, finding new ways to grow your business, and increasing the company’s online exposure.
- Print, TV, And Radio Advertising — Print, TV, and radio advertising provides the company a way to explain their product or services in traditional formats. Brochures, commercials, flyers, and letters can all be effective marketing techniques. Include information about the traditional media you will be using, their targeted audience, and why using them would be beneficial to the company.
- Trade Shows: Trade shows are an efficient way to showcase the company’s products to an interested audience. More importantly, attending trade shows is an advertising opportunity where you can also have media exposure. You can also list the different types of trade shows that the parent company used in the country of origin.
- Business Management and Hiring Strategy
This is the most important section of your L-1 immigration business plan because it shows your ability to efficiently and effectively manage your business. Take your time and ensure you explain the information in this section as clearly as possible because the number one reason that L-1 applications receive denials is the USCIS’s dissatisfaction with the sufficiency, clarity, feasibility, or level of detail in the personnel sections.
In addition, it is recommended for the foreign company to have been established for at least three years and to be able to show the financial status of the foreign company over the past three years. This will allow the USCIS to decide whether or not the foreign company can support the U.S. Company.
Before you start this section, you must gather documents including: Resume of applicant, Resumes of all employees already hired that operate at managerial positions, Employees’ positions, salaries, and job descriptions Employees. Once you have gathered all of the resumes and information you can begin outlining each employee. This section should include:
- A description for all the employees already hired
- A description for all the employees the company plans to hire
- Year of hiring
- Tasks, roles, and responsibilities
- How they will contribute to the growth and success of your company
- How qualified the person should be
It is not only important to present what your employees will be doing, but also important to provide the detailed personnel numbers, including the number of employees per each position and employee salaries. This will allow the application reviewer to see how realistic your personnel plan is, and will provide a concrete number showing how high your taxable salary mass will be, which is of high interest to the USCIS.
Also don’t forget that the hiring strategy section explains how many employees the company will hire from year 1 to year 5. If your company plans to hire contractors or part-time workers, include a description of their job responsibilities and add them to the personnel tables. You can begin by indicating the payroll expenses in years 1 and 5.
This section of your business plan is the backbone of your L1 visa business plan. This will explain your company’s expected growth using revenue, cost of production, and net profit for the coming five years. Note that a good L1 financial projection plan is made up of six sections: investment summary, sales forecast, feasibility analysis, profit and loss statement, break-even analysis, and the balance sheet. Below is a breakdown of what each section should include:
- Investment Summary: For L-1 visa applications, the investment summary section is optional, but it could strengthen your L-1 application. The categories that typically qualify as investment are working capital, professional fees, starting inventory, equipment, rent, and marketing expenses. This part should be completed with a lawyer’s approval, as all expenses need to be proved to the application reviewer.
- Sales Forecast: This is educated guessing, so do not expect to get this section perfect. However, you do want to make this section reasonable.
- Feasibility Analysis: The feasibility analysis describes how the company will reach its sales growth from year 1 to year 5. The feasibility studies goal is to prove that the company’s total revenue estimate in each of the coming five years will be achieved by its substantial investment into marketing and sales, as well as by the influence of external factors such as exponential industry growth.
- Profit and Loss Statement: The profit and loss statement summarizes company’s sales and expenses. This portion also calculates net profit. You can decide over how long of a period you would like to depreciate your long-term assets, but it is usually recommended that you depreciate them over 5 or 10 years.
- Break-Even Analysis: The break-even analysis determines whether and when your business will start covering all of its expenses and begin to make a profit. The key to this portion is to have a clear understanding of your company’s operating business expenses, sales, and cost of sales in each period. Identify your costs in each period to help determine the revenue needed to pay ongoing business expenses.
- Balance Sheet: It is highly recommended to include a balance sheet in the financial section. The balance sheet summarizes a company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time. The balance sheet is an overview of the company’s financials, and proof of the company’s health. The balance sheet is composed of sections for assets, liabilities, and equity.
Always have it in mind that the USCIS alone wants to know the ways your business can be valuable for the country and the way it can be beneficial overall. This can be shown through a number of ways made up but not limited to: the number of jobs established, the added value your services or products will bring to customers and the investment that is put at risk while setting up your business.
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