L1 Visa – Intracompany Transferee
The L-1 visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive, senior manager or specialized knowledge worker from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager or specialized knowledge worker to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
- Currently be, or will be, 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 viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in 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, the named employee must also:
- Have been working for a 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 United States to provide service in an executive, senior managerial 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.
- Senior 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 workers include those with a knowledge of the employers proprietary product or process that cannot be found in the labor market and has been gained through years of training and work experience.
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:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
Qualified 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-1 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 be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 non-immigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.
L1 Visa and Employment Based EB1C Green Card
The requirements for employment-based immigration (permanent residence) under the EB1C immigrant category to the requirements for the L1A Executive and Manager visa category. Many overseas executives and managers including business owners come under the L1A visa scheme first and then apply at a later date for EB1C as an international manager or executive which is one of the best ways of gaining an employment based immigrant visa (green card).
Types of employees who may be sponsored for L1 visa:
1) L1A Executives and Senior Managers
L1 Visa requirements for management and executive roles require a detailed description of the duties attached to the position. The executive or manager must have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function of the department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two year increments to a maximum of seven years. For a new US office entry for an L1 visa is granted for one year only and then can be renewed at the conclusion of that year.
2) L1B Specialized Knowledge Staff
This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. This should be explained in some detail when applying for the L1 visa. Staff in this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for three years extendable to a maximum of five years. On completing the maximum allowable period in L1 visa status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.