Thank you for your input, we have done quite a bit of research, hence why I am now here asking South African's their experience of relocating.
I found this information on the L1 visa's, which I why I assumed it would be relevant to us:
TheL1 Visa -
Using Your South African Business To Enter The USA
Are you currently a business owner inSouth Africa and considering a move to the United States of America? Whateveryour reasons may be for considering such a move, your South African businessmay your ticket to make that idea a reality. Here's how...
This opportunity comes to you in theform of an L1 visa, of which there are two types:
1. The L-1A visa is for "Managers"and "Executives" of businesses, including of course the owners ofsuch businesses.
2. The L-1B visa is available to those personswho have "Specialized Knowledge" regarding the business that isdeemed to be essential to its success in the U.S.A.
How do I qualify for the L1 visa?
Below are a few of the majorrequirements to qualify for an L-1A or L-1B Intra-Company Transfer Visa:
· If you are the owner of the SouthAfrican business, the business must have been operational for at least one yearprior to applying for the visa. This will need to be supported by evidentiarydocumentation such as taxes.
· If you are the employee of the foreigncompany, and wish to be petitioned as an executive, manager, or person withspecialized knowledge of the company, being sent to the U.S. to open the branchor subsidiary, then you must evidence that you have worked for the company forat least one out of the last three years. Note that an L-1 beneficiarytransferee does not have to work in the same capacity in the U.S. as he/she didabroad however he/she must have worked in one of those three positions abroadand must be entering to work in one of those three capacities in the U.S. Notethat the term employee can include a majority shareholder of bothcompanies, a sole stockholder, and a sole proprietor as well. The terms executive,manager, and specialized knowledge each have specific regulatorydefinitions.
· Throughout your stay in the U.S. on theL visa, the South African business which is the principal business used tocreate the U.S. branch or subsidiary must remain operational. This will have tobe evidenced when applying for future extensions of the L visa.
· In setting up a new office in the U.S.,the South African based company and the new U.S. Company must be related viaownership. For example, a majority stock ownership in both companies would besufficient. Note that joint ventures and group ownerships can qualify as wellin certain instances. These issues can get complex so it is a good idea toconsult an immigration attorney that is familiar with the L-1 process.
· The South African and U.S. basedcompanies need not be engaged in the same industry or line of business.Additionally, the size of the organizations does not technically matter,however there are several practical implications. With the L visa there is nominimum amount of money that needs to be invested into the U.S. Company,although evidence will have to be shown that sufficient funds are available tooperate the U.S. Company appropriately.
What are some of the benefits of theL1 visa?
· As an L-1A or L-1B visa holder you maybring your spouse and children under the age of 21 along with you to live inthe U.S. as long as your L visa is valid. In addition, your spouse is free toaccept any employment in the U.S.
· Under the L-1A visa you will beentitled to remain in the U.S. for a total of up to seven years, and under theL-1B visa up to a total of five years. Note that while maintaining yournon-immigrant L visa status in the U.S. you may legally apply for permanentresident status as the L visa allows for dual intent. If you receive permanentresidence status then you are no longer bound by the strictures of the L visa,and are lawfully entitled to reside in the U.S. permanently, barring anydisqualifying issues.
The L1 visa provides greatopportunities for South African business persons to enter the U.S. andestablish branch or subsidiary businesses in the U.S.
Note that these are only a few of themajor issues regarding the L1 visa, however it is not intended to beimmigration advice as the specific facts of each individual case need to beconsidered and changes in the law may occur at any time.