L-1 Visa (Intra-company Transferees)

L-1 visa is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign national executives being transferred to the U.S. to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization
  • Foreign national managers being transferred to the U.S. to supervise work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department, or subdivision
  • Specialized Knowledge employees of companies outside U.S. that have related U.S. branches, subsidiaries, affiliates, or joint venture partners
  • Employees and partners of international accounting firms
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national executives to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national managers to supervise work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department, or subdivision in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer employees with specialized knowledge such as its products, research methods, and marketing techniques.
  • Businesses that function both in the U.S. and in their home country benefit from the best of what both areas have to offer. The L-1 visa is open to international organizations with offices in the U.S. who temporarily transfer employees to their U.S. office. The L-1 visa is a document used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. This visa is sometimes referred as the “intra-company transferee” visa. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time differs from place to place; from three months (for Iran nationals) to one year (Mexico), two years (Brazil, Russia, China), to five years (India, Japan, Germany), based on a reciprocity schedule. With extensions, the maximum stay is seven years. The US and non-US employers must be related in one of four ways: parent and subsidiary; branch and headquarters; sister companies owned by a mutual parent; or ‘affiliates’ owned by the same or different people in approximately the same percentages.The employer must file a Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker), with the fee, on behalf of the employee. Spouses of L-1 visa holders are allowed to work without restriction in the US (using an L-2 visa), and the L-1 visa may legally be used as a starting opportunity to a green card under the doctrine of dual intent.

Types of L-1 Visas

There are two subcategories of L-1 visa: L-1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge. L-1A is valid for up to 7 years whereas is valid L-1B for 5 years. After passing 7 or 5 years respectively, the foreign national can generally only qualify for L-1 condition again by working abroad for at least 1 year for the parent, subsidiary, and affiliate or branch office of the U.S. Company. Basically, there are two types of L-1 processes:

  • Regular L-1 visa: This must be applied and approved for each individual by the USCIS. For a regular L-1 visa, the company must file a petition with the USCIS, and then each petition is evaluated on its own merits.
  • Blanket L-1 visa: This is available to employers that meet satisfied criteria. In the case of a blanket L-1 visa petition, it has already been decided by USCIS that the company qualifies for the issuance of Intracompany Transferee visa, so the individual visa applicant need only file a copy of the approved blanket petition along with documents supporting their personal qualifications, with the U.S. consulate or embassy having administration over their place of residence proving the applicant’s qualifications.

Qualifying Conditions of Employer and Employee

The L-1 classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to help establish one, with additional requirements. To qualify for L-1 classification the employer must:

  • Have a qualifying correlation with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations).
  • Continue doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be applicable for it to be occupied in the international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

To qualify for L-1 classification the employee must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Generally, must have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years instantly forwarding his or her admission to the United States.
  • Searching to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide extent without much oversight.

Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also assign to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for complete definitions.

Duration of Stay

Eligible employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be permitted a maximum initial stay of one year. All other eligible employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.

Family Status of L-1 Workers

Firstly, to obtain an L-1 visa, you must be able to prove that you have worked for the non-U.S. company for at least one full year within the last three years as an executive, manager, or employee with specialized knowledge. The transferring employee may be accompanied by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may look for admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, they will be allowed the same period of stay as the employee.

If these family members are already in the United States and looking for a change of status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply collectively, with the fee, on a Form I-539 , Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.

Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.

Source of Information: www.uscis.gov