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L-1 Visa (Intra-company Transfer Visa)

If you are a foreign worker who is relocating to your parent company’s U.S.-based office, you may be eligible for the L-1 (Intra-company Transfer Visa).

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What is an L1 Visa?

The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa meant to ease the temporary transfer of foreign specialized employees for work at their company’s branch in the United States.

The L-1 Visa, also known as an intra-company transfer visa, allows its holder to be legally acknowledged as an intra-company transferee. In other words, it allows a foreign worker to legally transfer for work in one of their U.S.-based affiliated offices of the foreign company. Once in the United States, the professional employees will be able to continue employment at a U.S.-based branch or subsidiary of their parent company.

Get in touch with our team today to get expert legal advice regarding your intra-company transfer visa application. We are experienced in processing applications for executive managers and specialized knowledge employees. If you are a U.S.-based employer, we can also help you hire an international workforce.

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Who is eligible for an Intra-company Transfer Visa?

The intra-company transfer visa is only available to employees who hold an executive or managerial position within their company or who have specialized knowledge essential to the operations of the business.

Successful candidates must have worked outside the United States for the same 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 L-1 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 United States or to a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate company.

What are the L1 Visa requirements for employers?

In order for foreign companies to be eligible to apply for L-1 visas on behalf of their employees, they must first qualify for L-1 classification by meeting the following requirements:

  • The employer has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (qualifying organizations are a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate)
  • The employer is currently or will be doing business in the United States and in at least one other country as an employer. In addition, this business must be done either directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the L-1 visa recipient’s stay in the United States

It should be noted that doing business, in this case, is defined as the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization.

What are the L-1 visa requirements for employees?

To qualify for the L-1 visa, employees must meet the following 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 organization
  • The employee must have worked for their overseas company 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 L-1A Visa, you must be working in an executive or managerial capacity
  • If you are an L-1B Visa applicant, the employee must be working a specialized knowledge employee

It should be noted that executive capacity is defined as the ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. Managerial capacity refers to the ability to manage and supervise both the professional employees and the organization’s essential function with only general supervision from higher-level executives.

Employees who provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity must possess special knowledge about the company’s products or services, methods, and/or procedures relevant to the organization’s processes.

How long can I stay in the U.S. under an L1 Visa?

Those in an executive or managerial role (L-1A Visa) can initially stay in the United States for three years. If needed, they can apply for 2-year extensions with a maximum stay of up to seven years.

Specialized Knowledge Staff (L-1B Visa) are granted an initial authorized stay of three years and can apply for a 2-year visa extension for a maximum stay 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.

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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 abroad for at least one of the last three years

L-1B Visa for Employees with Specialized Knowledge

This visa is for employees with specialized knowledge who have extensive knowledge of the petitioning organization’s product, services, techniques, management, or other interests and for whose knowledge must not be readily available within the United States.

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 employee 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, an H-1B Visa could be a valid alternative.

How do you apply for an L1 Visa?

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 file under your company’s L1 Blanket Petition. In this case, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIC) 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 United States.

Can my family members travel with me to the United States?

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the L1 visa holder can enter the United States under an L2 Visa for dependents.

Once in the United States, L2 Visa holders can apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to seek the right to work while in the United States. 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 United States, eligible family members can apply for another non-immigrant permit regardless of their L1 visa status.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The L1 visa is open to any professional employee from a foreign country, unlike other temporary worker visas which 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 lawful permanent residence in the United States. Contrarily, all H-1B Visa applicants must prove that they have no intention to immigrate to the U.S.

If you are unsure if an L1 Visa is a right choice for you, get in touch with one of our qualified immigration lawyers. We can provide you with the best guidance and help investigate the best way to proceed.

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 United States
  • 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 +1 844 290 6312.