L-1

 

Purpose

L-1 non-immigrant visa classification allow an international company with offices in the U.S. and abroad to temporarily transfer foreign employees to the company’s U.S. offices. If a foreign company does not yet have an affiliated office in the U.S., L-1 classification also allows the foreign company to send an executive, manager, or specialized knowledge employee to the U.S. for the purpose of establishing one.

 

The L-1 visa has two subcategories:

  • L-1A for executives and managers, valid up to 7 years
  • L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge, valid up to 5 years

 

The L-1 has two types of procedures:

  • Regular L-1 visas, which must be applied for and approved for each individual by the USCIS
    • Employer files I-129 along with supporting documentation and pays Special Fraud Fee (for fraud prevention and detection)
  • Blanket L-1 visas, which are available to employers that meet certain criteria
    • Allows the employer to transfer eligible employees to the U.S. quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS

 

L-1A

 

Qualifications of the Employee:

  • Preceding application for admission, employee has been continuously employed for 1 of the past 3 years by the parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of a U.S. company.
  • Employee is currently employed by a firm, corporation, or other legal entity or its parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary (qualifying organization)
  • Employee seeks to enter the U.S. temporarily to continue to work for the same employer or its affiliate or subsidiary
    • Employee need not work full-time, but must dedicate a significant portion of his or her time on a regular and systematic basis
    • OK for an employee with L-1 status to have pending petition for an immigrant visa.
  • Employee will continue to work in a capacity that is managerial or executive
    • The employee need not be transferred to the U.S. in the same capacity for which he or she was employed abroad
    • 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
    • Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight

Qualifications of the Employer:

  • Employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, i.e. as the parent company, or a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate (qualifying organization)
  • Employer must currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1
    • Doing business refers to 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
    • No requirement that the business be engaged in international trade

 

New Offices

For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the U.S. as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must show that:

  • The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
  • The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year of 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

 

Period of Stay

Qualified employees entering the U.S. to establish a new office are allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees are allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. All L-1A employees may request and be granted extensions in increments of up to an additional two years, and a maximum of 7 years total.

 

Family of L-1 Workers

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany L-1 workers and seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification, and if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.

  • Children of L-1 workers may not obtain paid work but may attend school
  • Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765

 

L-1B

 

Qualifications of the Employee:

  • Preceding application for admission, employee has been continuously employed for 1 of the past 3 years by the parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of a U.S. company.
  • Employee seeks to enter the U.S. to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations
    • Specialized knowledge is defined to include a person who has special knowledge of the company, product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets or has an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company; the employee is not simply a skilled worker

Qualifications of the Employer:

  • Employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, i.e. as the parent company, or a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate (qualifying organization)
  • Employer must currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1
    • Doing business refers to 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
    • No requirement that the business be engaged in international trade

 

New Offices

For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the U.S. as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must show that:

  • The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office
  • The employer has the financial ability to compensate the employee and begin doing business in the U.S.

 

Period of Stay

Qualified employees entering the U.S. to establish a new office are allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees are allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. All L-1B employees may request and be granted extensions in increments of up to an additional two years, and a maximum of 5 years total.

 

Family of L-1 Workers

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany L-1 workers and seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification, and if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.

  • Children of L-1 workers may not obtain paid work but may attend school
  • Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765