USA and the UK
What is an L1 Visa?
The L-1 Visa is meant to ease the temporary transfer of foreign specialized workers to their company’s branch in the U.S.
The L-1 Visa, also known as L1 Visa, allows its holder to be legally acknowledged as an intra-company transferee (Ex. To be able to transition as a worker in a foreign office to a worker in a U.S. based office). Once in the country, you will be able to continue employment with a U.S.-based branch or subsidiary of your employer.
Get in touch with our team to learn more about your options to apply for an L1 Visa. We are experienced in processing applications for executive managers and specialized workers. If you are a U.S.-based employer, we can help you hire international workforce as well.
Who is eligible for an L1 Visa?
The L1 Visa is only available to employees who hold a managerial or executive position within their company.
Successful candidates must have worked outside the U.S. for their employer for at least one year within the three-year timeframe before their application.
In addition, they must have specialized knowledge about the company’s products, procedures and methods.
There are two different L1 Visa tiers:
- L-1A for executive managers
- L-1B for “workers with specialized knowledge”
This permit is not suitable for international workers who wish to enter the U.S. to attend conferences or participate in training. If this is your case, you need to apply for a Business Visitor Visa.
Eligible candidates must be transferred to work for the same employer in the U.S., or a parent, subsidiary or affiliate company.
What are the L-1 Visa requirements?
In the past, the L1 Visa requirements were mainly met by large multinational companies. However, nowadays, this permit is also accessible to smaller companies or even start-ups that want to expand their business to the U.S.
To be eligible, you must meet the following L-1 Visa requirements:
- Your company must guarantee as a sponsor for your application
- Both your local company and your organization in the U.S. must be linked by a qualifying relation
- You must have worked for your corporation for a constant period of 12 months in the previous three years
- You must be actively working with your employer in the U.S. and your home country as well
- In the case of the L1A Visa, you must have supervisory responsibility for professional staff
- If you are an L1B Visa applicant, your knowledge must cover distinct areas of your business, such as particular procedures
Even though you must be a full-time employee at your company, you can be working in the U.S. on a part-time basis. Yet, you must dedicate a considerable and regular portion of your time to your job.
How long can I stay in the U.S. under an L-1 Visa?
The maximum amount of time you can stay in the U.S. as an intra-company transferee depends on your visa status.
Managers and executives (L-1A Visa) can initially stay in the U.S. for three years. You can be granted additional two-year extensions with a maximum of up to seven years.
Specialized Knowledge Staff (L-1B Visa) is first granted an authorized stay of three years. You can get an L1 Visa extension to a maximum of five years.
Upon expiration of your maximum allowable period, you must go back to your home country at least for one year before you can apply for a new L or H Visa status. This applies regardless of the L1 subcategory you fall in.
Can I extend my L1 Visa status to my relatives?
L1 visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can enter the U.S. as well. To do so, they need to apply for an L-2 Visa for dependents.
L2 Visa holders can apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to seek the right to work in the U.S.
This “open market” employment authorization is available only for the spouse of the L-1 visa holder.
Dependent children are not eligible to work in the U.S., but they can still attend school either part-time or full-time.
While in the U.S., your relatives can apply for another non-immigrant permit regardless of our L1 visa status.
L-1A Visa for Executives and Managers
Under an L-1A Visa, foreign executives and managers can be granted temporary work authorization.
The following are the eligibility criteria:
- There must be a professional relationship between the U.S. petitioning company and the foreign business where the applicant is currently working
- The transferee must hold a managerial or executive level position before and after being transferred
- The applicant must have worked for the foreign company for at least one of the last three years
L-1B Visa for Aliens with Specialized knowledge
This visa is for employees with specialized knowledge who have extensive knowledge of their company’s products, services, techniques and management and for whose knowledge must not be readily available within the U.S.
Eligible applicants need to possess specialized knowledge of:
- The company’s services
- The role of the company in international markets
- Processes and procedures of the company
If the alien is going to work at the employer’s client site, he or she should be supervised by a person from the sponsoring company. Depending on the circumstances, a H-1B Visa could be a valid alternative.
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Aliens from any foreign country may be eligible for an L1 Visa. This differs from other temporary worker visas, that are limited to nationals of countries that have signed treaties with the U.S.
A substantial difference between L1 and H1 visas is that only the latter is a dual intent permit. In other words, L1 visa holders can eventually apply for permanent residence in the country. Contrarily, all H1B Visa applicants must prove that they have no intention to immigrate to the U.S.
The L1 Visa processing time and procedure depend on the type of permit you are applying for.
If you are an individual worker, you need an L1 Regular Visa. Your company must file a petition for each beneficiary, which is evaluated on its own merits.
If your company needs to hire a large number of foreign employees every year, you must petition for an L1 Blanket Visa. In this case, the USCIS should have already determined that your business is a qualified sponsor. You are still required to submit a separate request, but your L1 Visa processing time and cost will be reduced.
As a general rule, the application process begins when you (the “petitioning employee”) submit an I-129 Form to the USCIS. Your petition must include adequate supporting documentation about your company and the position you are going to hold in the U.S.
Since it is available only for certain categories of workers, applicants often wonder if an L1 Visa is the right choice for their case. Following the advice of a qualified immigration lawyer, you can investigate the best way to proceed.
Our immigration lawyers will provide their best guidance. Our service includes:
- Making sure that all your doubts and issues are addressed;
- Ensuring your company can sponsor your application;
- Checking if your role within your organization meet the L1 Visa requirements;
- Liaising with your local business and its branch in the U.S.;
- Follow you through the process of filing your I-129 Form.
Get in touch today to arrange your first consultation with one of our lawyers. You can use our contact form or call us on +1844 290 6312.