L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa which allows companies to relocate foreign qualified employees to its U.S. subsidiary or parent company. The L1 visa, also known as intracompany transfer visa. The qualified employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the company for at least one year out of the last three years. The U.S. company must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company. L1 visa is a good way for small or start-up overseas companies to expand their business and services to the US. The L1 visa may also include non-profit, religious, or charitable organizations.
This is beneficial to smaller companies because it allows for the transfer of a highly proficient manager or executive who has direct knowledge of operations, allowing the setup of a new branch in compliance with the goals and objectives of the company’s main office.
L1 visas can also be used by multi-national companies. When a multi-national company is developing a new market in another country, it may become necessary to have some employees with specialized knowledge work in the newly established office. Such companies may have policies of international rotation of managerial level personnel to assure that all key personnel within a company have equal opportunity for career advancement when an appropriate position becomes open in any location around the world. This exchange often results in innovation essential to a company’s reputation and development. A regular rotation of key personnel improves and ensures uniformity of service and procedure within the company at a global level. However, USCIS will carefully examine L visa petitions filed by lesser-known companies more closely, professional consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer is strongly recommended for these types of small businesses.
L-1A visas – Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
The L1A Visa is designed for executives and managers who have supervisory responsibility for a key function or a department of the employer. It facilitates the transfer of managers and executives to a US branch to work or establish a new branch of the company. L1A visa is granted initially for one year for a new company in the US or three years for a US company with more than one year in existence, with extensions available in two-year increments. The L-1A visa is valid for up to 7 years, with extension.
L-1B visas – Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
L1B are designed for professional employees with specialized knowledge. An example of specialized knowledge personnel would be an individual who possesses proprietary knowledge about a company’s product and who travels to the U.S. to impart his or her specialized knowledge to new U.S. employees. In addition, companies who currently do not have an office in the United States can use the L1B visa to send over an employee with specialized knowledge to help establish one. An L1B visa is issued initially for three years with one two-year extension for a maximum of five years stay.
In both cases, the U.S. company and foreign company must be related in a specific way such through a parent/subsidiary relationship or through an affiliated employer.
L-1 Blanket Visa
The USCIS has provided a special set of procedures to be used by companies that are frequent users of the L1 visa category and are large multi-national organizations. This is called the “L-1 Blanket Petition Program”. This program allows the approved company to receive only one approval from the USCIS to transfer a certain number of managerial, executive and professional employees. On completing the maximum allowable period, the L1 holder must leave the United States for minimum of one year and must work for foreign operation of the U.S. Company before becoming eligible to reapply for an L visa.
Foreign worker is allowed to divide work between the U.S. and home country. In other words, the foreign worker can be principally employed outside the U.S. and still receive L1 visa for coming to the U.S. to work on a short-term basis.
Spouses of L-1 visa holders may apply for work authorization with USCIS to work in US without restriction.
One of the benefits of the L1 visa is that holder may apply for a Green Card and become a permanent resident without compromising his/her L-1 visa status or visa applications from a U.S. consular office abroad. Another advantage is that visa numbers are almost always current if apply for Green card through EB-1C category. This means that the L1 visa holder will not have to wait for visa numbers to become available before applying Adjustment of Status (I-485) and receiving a Green Card.
For more information on L Visa, please refer on one of the following topics below:
- L-1 Visa Description
- General Requirements for L-1 Visas
- Process for Obtaining an L-1 Visa
- Benefits of the L-1 Visa
- Information on Qualifying Entities and Positions
- Information/Documents Needed for L-1 Petition
- L-1A Blanket Petitions
- Obtain and Maintain an L Status
- From L-1A Status to Green Card
- Brief Information on Recapturing Time on an L-1 Visa