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L-1

  • Overview
  • Requirements
  • Filing Process
  • Common Questions & Answers

Overview

The L-1 visa generally allows an international company with affiliated foreign offices to transfer employees who have executive, managerial or specialized knowledge within their multi-national company. The L-1 visa also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee or manager/executive to the United States to set up a subsidiary office.

Requirements

To qualify for L-1 visa, the employer must:

  1. Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (eg. Subsidiary, branch, etc); and
  2. Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country directly for the duration of the beneficiary's stay in the United States as an L-1.

Doing business means regular, systematic, and continuously conducting business by offering goods/services by a qualifying organization and the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad is not sufficient.

To qualify, the employee must also:

  • Been working for the qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the US to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity or specialized knowledge 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 latitude 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 refer to the employee's ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.

Specialized knowledge means an individual of the qualifying organization having special knowledge of the organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures.

New Offices

For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:

  • Sufficient physical premise has been secured for the new office;
  • The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
  • The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

Application Process

The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker on behalf of the employee. You should seek the assistance of an experienced immigration professional as the petition process requires extensive documentation and thorough preparation.

Employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year.  All other qualified 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.

The transferring employee may bring his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Spouse is eligible for work authorization and family members can attend school in the United States.

Common Questions & Answers

See our articles that answer various immigration questions on our blog.

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