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Profiles in Immigration – Higher Ed Leader Reimagines Business Degrees in U.S. with L-1A Visa

Ducere Global Business School was founded in Australia in 2012 with the goal of providing world-class, international business degree programs that reflected the needs of today’s innovation-driven economy. Through a mix of online study, real-world business projects and industry events, Ducere delivers Bachelor and MBA programs to more than 1,000 students per year and expects to increase to 5,000 students in the next three years. Ducere expanded into programming into Africa and the United Kingdom before setting its sights on opening to American students.

Higher Education Opportunities in the United States

“The US is the largest higher education market in the world, with significant opportunities for world class online higher education.” Mat Jacobson, Founder and CEO of Ducere.

Ducere Global Business School Founder and CEO Mat Jacobson

Ducere provides relevant work experience to college students and built its curriculum to reflect the needs of today’s innovators and business leaders. Instead of taking traditional exams, students engage in real-world problem solving with business leaders, including projects at Fox Studios – Disney, United Nations, PwC, KPMG, Salvation Army, Save the Children, Qantas Airlines, banks, manufacturers and more.

“We are tackling a problem that everyone knows is an issue,” Mat said. “What you learn for years in the lecture room has very little to do with the skills you need in the workplace. We started by assessing the needs of today’s workplaces, and designed curriculum to meet the needs of the industry.”

Ducere’s innovative programming is offered to students through accredited U.S. and foreign colleges and universities. Through Ducere, students can earn an undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship, marketing or management, or a Master’s in Business Administration from the Ducere Global Business School at University of Wales Trinity St. David.

With a work-ready pedagogy, Ducere is hoping to become a disruptor in higher education – but that is not the only appeal of Ducere’s programming. Many of Ducere’s higher education degree programs are a fraction of the cost of similar degree programs – often $100,000 less than a comparable degree. With the cost of higher education a major obstacle for U.S. students, Mat knew Ducere would have immense growth opportunities on American soil. But in order to open operations in the United States, Ducere needed a business immigration program that allowed Mat, a native of Australia, to open headquarters in the U.S. and hire critical team members to work where they were needed.

Ford Murray was excellent at every stage. Clear and professional advice, incredibly responsive, usually within an hour of any requests, and delivered what they said they would, when they said, and on budget. I couldn’t have asked for a more professional service, but it’s also important to me, that the team genuinely care and take a very personal interest in the success of their clients.”

Mat Jacobson, Founder and CEO of Ducere International Business School

Mat found FordMurray through an internet search, with very limited information about how to comply with federal immigration laws and what visa programs would work for his organization.

“There are strong economic reasons for opening a business in the United States,” Mat said, citing the sophisticated banking and regulatory systems in place to support businesses. “But immigration is a complex minefield.”

Navigating the L-1 New Office Visa

Although he didn’t know about the L visa program, he said FordMurray Senior Counsel Aga Asbury was critical in helping him understand his options in a complicated immigration landscape. “Aga was able to understand our goals and objectives, provide various pathways forward and explain why we should pursue our best option.”

With Aga’s help, Mat opened a U.S. branch of Ducere Business School in Corona del Mar, California, in 2019 using the L-1 “new office” Visa Program.

The L-1 visa program allows companies to move employees freely from foreign offices – making it an essential visa program for U.S. companies with foreign offices and for foreign companies who would like to open a branch of their business in the U.S. using the L-1 “new office” program.

Requirements of the  L-1 “new office” visa include: an L-1 visa employee must be a manager or executive, or have specialized knowledge of the business; the employee must have worked for the company for one continuous year in the past three years; the company must have secured physical premises in the United States; and the company must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign entity that maintains operations outside of the United States. If those qualifications are met, L-1 visas are issued for an initial one-year period to establish a new U.S. office. Once the office is set up, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years.  L-1A employees can work for a total of seven years, and L-1B employees for a total of five years.

Mat is working in the United States on an L-1A, and will have the option of using L-1A and L-1B visas to bring in foreign faculty and staff. For now, he said he expects to hire primarily American workers for Ducere’s U.S. office as Ducere works to expand its mission to undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S.

“The first two years are about establishing the foundations for growth. We already have a team of 6 locally. We hope that over the next 5 years, this number will grow towards 100. We have already built relationships with major employers, won state and federal awards, and are enrolling students at both an undergraduate and post-graduate level,” Mat said.

Ducere’s mission will help students achieve an undergraduate or graduate business degree, even while  maintaining full-time employment.

“Our vision is to re-imagine US higher education by providing practical, applied and relevant skills, at an affordable cost,” Mat said. “We help students not only achieve the dream of college, but strive through enhanced employment and career opportunities.”

Working with FordMurray

Mat said FordMurray’s counsel during the L-1 “new office” visa petition process was critical to a seamless launch of U.S. operations.

“Ford Murray was excellent at every stage. Clear and professional advice, incredibly responsive, usually within an hour of any requests, and delivered what they said they would, when they said, and on budget. I couldn’t have asked for a more professional service, but it’s also important to me, that the team genuinely care and take a very personal interest in the success of their clients.”

Interested in learning more about the L visa? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.