Santiago J. Padilla, P.A.

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Located in the Miami metropolitan area, the Law Offices of Santiago J. Padilla, P.A., offers comprehensive services for business clients with a variety of needs.

A Virtual Office or Coworking Arrangment is Insufficient for L-1A Visa Category.

Nowadays, many companies operate through what are called "virtual offices" or "coworking offices" since much work can be done digitally or in the cloud. A "virtual office" is an arrangement that enables a company to have a presence without the need to pay rent for an actual space and allows employees of a business to work remotely. "Coworking" is an arrangement whereby the company's employees work in shared offices spaces so that the company does not have the need to pay rent for office space. While these types of arrangements reflect the modern trend of the digital economy, recent decisions of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) demonstrate that such types of offices are insufficient for the L-1A category.

Specifically, there are numerous decisions of USCIS that hold that a virtual office is insufficient to establish that the petition has sufficient premises as required by the law. For example, in a recent Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decision, dated June 30, 2015, the AAO dismissed the appeal of the denial of an L-1A Visa in part because the company failed to obtain "sufficient physical premises". In that case, the AAO first enunciated that the applicable regulation at 8 C.F.R. §214.2(l)(3)(v) states that the petitioner must submit evidence that "[s]ufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured." The AAO then reviewed the "Virtual Office Agreement" that was submitted with the petition and stated that it was unclear where the petitioner's prospective staff would actually carry out the daily operational tasks of the company. As such, the AAO denied the petition.

While this may be a situation where the law has failed to keep up with changes in the modern economy, the law requires "sufficient physical premises", so for now a virtual office or coworking arrangement will simply not work. 

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If you have any questions regarding immigration law and/or immigration categories, please do not hesitate to contact me, Santiago J. Padilla, Esq., either at 800-483-7197, or [email protected] 

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