Step by Step Guide To Writing a Business Plan For Your L1 Visa Application
As one of the members of the GoBusinessPlans business plan team, the most important question that every visa applicant has to ask when creating a business plan is: What will my business bring to the U.S.?
An immigration business plan may seem like a regular business plan but it actually has a very different audience. An immigration business plan seeks to fulfil the main visa requirements set by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Immigration business plans are not written for investors who may or may not invest in your business or for a bank that may or may not loan money or open a credit line. An immigration business plan is for an immigration officer who will decide whether or not your application should be approved. Our team at GoBusinessPlans.com regularly completes more than 300 immigration business plans every year. We have a 100% approval rate and our L1 business plan writers and consultants can help you complete your business plan. There are four major requirements you must fulfill to apply for an L-1 Visa:
Requirement 1 — The petitioning U.S. entity must have a qualifying relationship with your entity abroad.
Requirement 2 — Sufficient physical space must be secured for a new office.
Requirement 3 — A new office must be active and operating within one year after the L-1’s admission to the United States if requesting an extension of stay.
Requirement 4 — After 1 year the new office must support a managerial or executive position if you are requesting an extension of stay in the L-1A classification.
Essentially, the USCIS wants to know the ways your business can be valuable for the country and the way it can be beneficial overall. This can be portrayed through a number of ways including but not limited to: the number of jobs created, the added value your services or products will bring to customers, the investment that is put at risk while setting up your business and through the sustainability of your business. In the following guide, we have laid out the key components that your L-1 Visa Business Plan should include to give yourself the best chance to secure your visa and fulfill the aforementioned requirements.
SECTION 1: GATHER NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
Having all necessary supporting documentation is the most important 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 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
- Finally, you need to determine if the foreign company is a parent company or an affiliated company
Again, having your documents readily on hand will make your writing process with GoBusinessPlans much smoother.
SECTION 2: TONE, STRUCTURE, GRAMMAR, AND PROOFREADING
What is said in the business plan and how its said is equally important when it comes to your immigration business plan. In order to complete your business plan at the optimal level, we follow the following guidelines:
- If the 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.
Finally, you will want to have somebody else proofread your business plan. You will of course proofread your own business plan several times yourself, but having an outsider’s perspective is always helpful.
SECTION 3: BUSINESS OVERVIEW
The business overview is the first thing that the application reviewer will read. The business overview is also called the executive summary. 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 and list: the nature of the company, expansion strategy, target market, marketing strategy, and number of employees.
In order to prepare the best business overview, 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?
SECTION 4: FOREIGN BUSINESS OVERVIEW
The foreign business overview will include the foreign company’s business model, history, and market position. The purpose 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 SECTION 3 should be answered for the foreign business overview. 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.
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.
Note: Do not forget to convert foreign currency to USD and to include the exchange rate, the source you obtained it from, and the date you obtained the rate you used.
In addition to the executive summary of the foreign business, you should also include a concise overview of the management team of the business. This can include an organizational chart of the foreign company and a description of its team. This section will provide the USCIS with a more precise description of the foreign company’s organizational structure.
SECTION 5: LOCATION
Location is everything when it comes to your business and this must be reflected in your immigration business plan. Choice of location is sometimes the ultimate marker of success for a business and may bring an enormous change in customer base for any given business. Therefore, 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.
You should 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. Remember 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.
If you want to further improve your location section, you can include a map with your business on it, the business days and hours of operation, and an email address or phone number where customers will be able to reach you.
SECTION 6: OWNERSHIP
The structure of the company is vital for the business plan because it tells the immigration officer the number of people with decision-making power within the company. Use 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.
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.
SECTION 7: BUSINESS OFFERINGS
This section should 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 — Writing a short description of your business can be difficult, 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 — The goal here is to describe 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. Providing photos and price points are also great things to include.
Suppliers description — The importance of your business’ suppliers 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. You should also emphasize 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.
SECTION 8: INDUSTRY
The industry analysis gives the application reviewer a full understanding of the industry the company will be operating within. The industry analysis should 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.
The goal in this section is to show that there is an environment where your company can grow within its industry. In general, 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. Additionally, you should show how certain statistics and data speak to your company, and how your company will continue to enhance the industry in return.
SECTION 9: MARKET
The purpose of this section is to show that you have to 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 be sure to list which state, city, and neighborhood 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. Below are further sub-sections you should include in your Market section:
Geography — 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.
Competition — Outlining competitors in the area gives an idea of how hard it will be for your business to obtain market share. However, having competitors does not always mean bad luck for your company. If the area you operate within has a demand for your offerings, competitors can actually be good for your business, and this should be detailed in your business plan. You can also display a map where competitors can be found.
Target Market — In this sub-section you will want to answer the following questions:
- Who are your customers?
- What is your target market’s predominant gender?
- What age are the individuals within your target group(s)?
- Where do the individuals within your target group(s) live?
- What are the jobs of individuals within your target group(s)?
- How much do the individuals within your target group(s) earn?
- What factors may cause your target group(s) to not want to or to not be able to purchase your products or services?
While these are all important questions to answer, feel free to answer as many questions as you can think of to further define this target market. The more you know about your target market the more you will convince the application reviewer that you know your business and you know how to operate within the industry.
SECTION 10: COMPETITION
One of the key features of great business plans is highlighting competitors to the company and showing how the company will out perform the competitors. Furthermore, the competition analysis section shows how the company does or will do compared to its competitors, and should include a table comparing the business to its competitors. The table should summarize each competitor’s business overview, 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.
There should also be a small section at the end of the competition section that highlights your business’ advantages over its competitors. The purpose of this section is to show that the company will thrive 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.
SECTION 11: MARKETING
Your marketing strategy is vital in helping you reach and attract your target market. Currently, online marketing is the main focus of many marketing strategies and efforts for companies all over the globe. However, there are several forms of marketing strategies that must be considered and put into place. 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. Appearing on the first page of results is vital because very few internet browsers click to the second page of results. Therefore, it is important to dedicate a certain amount of your financials to SEO every month.
Social Media — Having 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. You can also list the social media sites that the parent company used in the country of origin, as some may differ from the United States.
Print, TV, And Radio Advertising — Print, TV, and radio advertising offer the 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. You can also list the traditional formats that the parent company used in the country of origin, as some may differ from the United States.
Trade Shows — Trade shows are an efficient way to showcase the company’s products to an interested audience and potential customers. 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.
While the above are certainly not all of the marketing strategies available, they are the main ones that many business implement.
Finally, you should include a marketing timeline in this section. The marketing timeline should summarize all of your marketing strategies and give an idea of your marketing strategy as a whole. The timeline will include when each campaign will begin and state the marketing goals that you are hoping to reach. You can also briefly list the marketing timeline for the parent company and how it benefitted the business in the country of origin.
SECTION 12: MANAGEMENT
This is the most important section of your L-1 immigration business plan because it displays your ability to efficiently and effectively manage your business and manage a team of qualified employees. Make sure 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 again start gathering documents including:
- Resume of applicant
- Resumes of all employees already hired that operate at managerial positions
- Employees’ positions, salaries, and job descriptions
Once you have gathered all of the resumes and information you can begin outlining each employee. This section should include outlines that consist of:
- 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
Note: Keep in mind that you can increase your chances of getting approved if you state that you expect to hire at least five employees by the end of year 5.
It is not only important to present what your employees will be doing, but it is 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.
This portion of the management section explains how many employees the company will hire from year 1 to year 5. This can include an explanation for the increase in personnel using information from the sales forecast and also to justify the payroll for employees that receive tips or the equivalent. 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.
Remember that you are also an employee of the company, so you must include your detailed job description as well. Usually, you should emphasize your importance and how the company cannot operate without you. You should be at the top of the management pyramid, and have a minimum of three managers below you in the pyramid by the end of the first year of operations. Additionally, you will need to outline your involvement in the business. This will need to be broken down into year 1 and year 5 increments as detailed below:
Applicant’s Time Allocation in Year 1
This section is a specification for the L-1 visa application, and is extremely important for the business plan. This part requires a lot of detail that may be better organized into a table. This table should include:
- The specific tasks that will be completed by the applicant (classified by department and employees involved)
- The amount of time the applicant will allocate to each task (as a percentage of the applicant’s total available working time)
- The other positions in the company that will be involved with and affected by each task that the applicant is completing
Applicant’s Time Allocation in Year 5
This part highlights the importance of the applicant in the U.S. company by emphasizing each task that will be performed by the applicant in the company’s fifth year of operations. However, the goal of this section is different from the goal of the previous section. Here is where you show that in the company’s fifth year of operations, the applicant’s only role will be to supervise and oversee tasks — not to perform hands-on activities.
SECTION 13: FINANCIALS
The financials section is the backbone of your L-1 visa business plan. This will show your company’s expected growth using revenue, costs of production, and net profit for the coming five years. A typical L-1 financial projection plan is composed 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. A sales forecast should show the following items:
- The number of products or services you will sell during each of the next five years
- The price per unit of your products or services for each of the next five years
- The total revenue of your company
- The cost per unit for each of your products or services
- The total cost of goods sold for the next five years
Feasibility Analysis — The feasibility analysis explains how the company will reach its sales growth from year 1 to year 5. The feasibility study’s 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 efforts, as well as by the influence of external factors such as exponential industry growth.
Note: In 2014, there was an increase in the number of requests for evidence issued by the USCIS because of nonexistent, poorly prepared, or vague feasibility analyses submitted by L-1 visa applicants. Therefore, this section should be created with extreme care.
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 financials 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.
If you need help with your business plan, please don’t hesitate to contact us at http://www.gobusinessplans.com/l1-business-plan/. We have sucessfully completed more than 1200+ immigration business plan projects and look forward to working on your business plan project.