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Process for Obtaining an L-1 Visa

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Whether alien is applying through the change of status procedure or obtaining a visa through consular processing, the following petition papers must be collected and sent to the USCIS by the petitioning employer:

  1. The Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and the L Supplement. These can be downloaded for free from the USCIS web page.
  2. A supporting letter from the U.S. employer, verifying that the alien will be working for them in the United States in the necessary capacity.

Documentary Evidence

According to the USCIS, the petitioner must submit evidence of the following requirements for an L-1 visa:

  • A valid qualifying relationship between the business entity in the United States and the foreign entity which employs the alien abroad. This can be proven in different ways, depending on the nature of the petitioner:
  1. If the petitioning employer is a large and well-established organization, they may submit a statement by the company’s president, corporate attorney, corporate secretary, or other authorized official describing the ownership and control of each qualifying organization. This must be accompanied by other evidence such as a copy of the company’s most recent annual report, Security and Exchange Commission filings, or other documentation which lists the parent and its subsidiaries.
  2. If the petitioning employer is a small business, in addition to a statement of an authorized official regarding ownership and control of each qualified organization, other evidence of ownership and control should be submitted, such as records of stock ownership, profit and loss statements or other accountant’s reports, tax returns or articles of incorporation, by-laws and minutes of board meetings.
  3. If the petitioning employer is sending the beneficiary to open a new office in the United States, proof of ownership and control, in addition to financial viability, is required. The petitioner’s statement of ownership and control should be submitted along with evidence, such as evidence of the capitalization of the company or evidence of financial resources committed by the foreign company, articles of incorporation, by-laws, minutes of board of director’s meetings, corporate bank statements, profit and loss statements or other accountant’s reports, or tax returns.

Change of Status vs. Consular Processing: L-1 and Change of Status (COS) Application

Those aliens who are in the US with another nonimmigrant status have two options available to them to get their L-1 status. One is to apply for an L-1 with the USCIS and then request a COS, again with the USCIS. The other is to apply for an L-1 with the USCIS and after its approval, apply for a visa through a US Consular Office abroad, then use that L-1 visa to travel to the United States to gain L-1 status.

Generally, in order to be eligible to petition for a COS in the United States, the alien:

  • Must have been lawfully admitted into the U.S. as a nonimmigrant;
  • Must have not committed any act that would make them ineligible to receive immigration benefits;
  • Must have no other factor that requires them to depart the U.S. prior to making a re-entry based on a different classification (for example, a USCIS officer may determine that they need to obtain a new visa prior to being re-admitted);
  • Must request a COS application in the L- 1application before theexpiration date oftheir I-94.

L-1 and Consular Processing:

In order to obtain their visa, the alien must present the following materials in person at the U.S. consulate once their approved L-1 petition has been sent to the National Visa Center:

  • Form DS-160 , the standard nonimmigrant visa application
  • Passport of the visa applicant
  • One photograph following Department of State requirements
  • Applicable application fee
  • USCIS approval notice of a nonimmigrant petition (I-797B) or certification from sponsoring institution when such prior approval or certification is required for issuance of a nonimmigrant visa
  • Supporting documentation establishing the alien’s eligibility for the particular nonimmigrant visa sought.

For more information about the process, please click here.