USA and the UK
- What is the L-1A (Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager) Visa?
- Who is eligible for an L-1A visa?
- What are the requirements for employees?
- What is the application process for an L-1A visa?
- What is a Blanket Petition?
- What documents are needed from the employer?
- What documents are needed from the employee?
- How long is the L-1A visa valid?
- Can family members join an L-1A visa holder in the United States?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the L-1A (Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager) Visa?
The L-1A visa allows foreign companies to transfer employees who work in an executive or managerial capacity from one of its affiliated offices abroad to an office in the United States. Under this visa, foreign companies may send an executive or manager to the United States for the purposes of establishing a new office in the U.S. or work at an already established branch, subsidiary, or affiliate office.
This visa is meant for foreign employees to work in the United States for longer periods of time. Employees who are visiting the U.S. for short-term activities such as meetings, conferences, or training are not eligible for an L-1A visa however they may apply for a B1 (Business Visa).
In order to obtain an L-1A visa, the foreign company employer must first file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) to petition for the employee. Possible sponsors for an Intra-Company Transferee visa can include multinational companies, charities, or other non-profit organizations along with smaller businesses and start-ups.
There are no yearly caps on the number of L-1A visas issued per year. L-1A visa holders are able to bring their immediate family members with them to the United States and are even eligible to apply for a green card later.
Who is eligible for an L-1A visa?
The intra-company transfer visa is only available to employees who hold an executive or managerial position within a foreign company that does business with another employer in the United States or through another qualifying organization.
Doing business is classified as the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization.
Successful candidates must have worked outside the United States for the same employer for at least one continuous year within the three-year timeframe before their application.
There are two different L-1 Visa tiers:
- L-1A for workers who work in a managerial or executive capacity
- L-1B for workers who provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity
All eligible L-1 visa candidates must be transferred to work for the same employer in the United States or to a qualifying organization such as a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate company. Furthermore, the employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company that is currently or will be doing business in the United States.
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
Employers who would like to transfer an employee to the U.S. for the purposes of establishing a new office under an L-1A visa will need to provide evidence that they have secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office and that this intended office will support a managerial or executive position within 1 year of the petition’s approval.
What are the requirements for employees?
Each interested applicant must be able to meet the requirements for the Intra-Company Transferee Visa. The specific requirements which must be met will depend on the role within the company under which the employee works. In other words, there are a different set of requirements for managers than there are for executives.
Those who work as a manager for their company must have a position in which they manage an organization or a major department. 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.
Duties of a manager include the hiring and firing of employees along with overseeing any other necessary day to day functions
Those who work in an executive capacity generally direct the management of the company and have the ability to make decisions of wide latitude. Executive positions include President, Vice-President, CEO, COO, CMO, CTO, etc.
What is the application process for an L-1A visa?
To apply for an L-1A visa, the employer will first need to submit Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This form will need to be submitted at least 45 days before the employee’s starting date of work but no more than 6 months.
If the petition is approved, the employer will then need to complete Form I-197 (Notice of Action). This will allow the employee the right to apply for an L-1A visa. To begin the visa application, the employee will then need to complete Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application).
Form DS-160 can be completed and submitted online. This form will ask the applicant questions regarding their background, education, work experience, and reasons for entry into the United States. After the form is submitted, a confirmation page and number will be shown on the screen. It is important that the applicant prints and retains this confirmation page as it will be needed later in the visa application process.
The last step of the application process is scheduling and attending a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is important that the applicant brings the necessary supporting documents with them to the visa interview. After the interview, the applicant will receive a decision on whether or not their visa has been approved. If approved, the visa holder will be free to travel to the United States. If rejected, the applicant will be informed of the reasons for the denial and if they are eligible to re-apply.
What is a Blanket Petition?
Employers who frequently use the L1 visa category for the transfer of their employees from one office to another may be eligible to apply for a Blanket L Petition Approval. Blanket petitions allow certain organizations to establish themselves as qualifying sponsors for intracompany transfers. As a result, transferees can simply apply at their nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy for an L-1 visa rather than wait for USCIS petition approval.
In order to qualify for a blanket petition, the organization must meet the following requirements:
- Both the petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations participate in commercial trade or services
- The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for at least 1 year
- The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates
- The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations has either obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period, has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million, or has a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees
It should be noted that blanket petitions do not guarantee that an employee will be granted an L-1A visa. However, it does provide the employer with the ability to expedite the visa application process.
What documents are needed from the employer?
In addition to Form I-129, the petitioning employer will also need to submit supporting documentation that shows that the employer meets the criteria for sponsorship. These documents can include the following:
- Any evidence showing that the petitioner and the organization which will employ the applicant in the United State are qualifying organizations
- Any evidence that the employee will be employed in an executive or managerial capacity
- Any evidence which shows that the employee has had one continuous year of full-time employment abroad with a qualifying organization within three years preceding the filing of the petition
- Any evidence which shows that the employee’s prior year of employment abroad was in a position that was managerial or executive
- Any evidence that shows that the employee’s education, training, and employment qualifies him or her to perform the intended services in the United States
Furthermore, employers will be asked to provide business documents related to both the foreign company and U.S. -based company. These can include stock certificates, business leases, evidence of initial investment, tax returns, quarterly reports, bank statements, audited accounts as well as contracts, invoices, and company letterhead, etc. For more information about what documents will suffice, consult with your immigration attorney.
What documents are needed from the employee?
Employees who are applying for an L-1A visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate will need to submit the following documents at their visa interview:
- A valid passport (valid for at least 6 months after intended travel)
- Their visa interview appointment letter
- DS-160 confirmation page
- A copy of their updated resume/CV
- A copy of the I-129 petition submitted by their employer to the USCIS
- The I-797 approval notice from USCIS
- A written letter from the employer to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate requesting the L1 visa on the applicant’s behalf
- 2 photographs of the applicant (shot according to U.S. visa standards)
- Any other business-related documents to support your eligibility as a manager or executive
How long is the L-1A visa valid?
L-1A visa holders can initially stay in the United States for a period of up to three years. If needed, they can apply for 2-year extensions with a maximum stay of up to seven years.
All visa holders who have stayed in the United States for the maximum amount of time will need to return to their home country at least for one year before applying for a new L or H Visa status. This applies regardless of the L1 subcategory you fall in.
Can family members join an L-1A visa holder in the United States?
Immediate family members of an L-1A visa holder are eligible to apply for an L2 Dependents visa. This visa allows for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 to enter the United States where they can work and attend school either part-time or full-time.
Spouses are allowed to work under an L2 visa without needing to apply for employment authorization.
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The L-1A visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows the visa holder to temporarily work in the United States for a specific amount of time. However, the requirements for an L-1A visa are very similar to the requirements for an EB-1C visa which is an employment-based green card for multinational managers and executives.
Therefore, if an L-1A visa holder would like to stay in the United States permanently, they can try applying for an EB-1C visa. In order to do this, the applicant must have a job offer in the United States in order to petition for a green card.
L-1A visas usually take around 6-12 months to process. The processing time will of course depend on if there is any backlog at either the USCIS or at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that will process the visa. For those applying under a blanket L petition, the visa will only take 1-3 weeks to process.
A standard L-1A visa can also be expedited through premium processing. This service costs $2,500 and will process the visa within 15 days. To apply for premium processing, the employer must file Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service)
L1A and L1B are both Intra-Company Transferee Visas in the L-visa classification. However, L-1A visas are for managers and executives and L-1B visas are for professional employees who have specialized knowledge relating to the company’s interests in both the foreign and U.S.-based offices.
Furthermore, each L1 visa has different perks and advantages depending on the category. For example, L-1A visa holders are allowed to stay in the United States longer for work than L-1B visa holders.
Here at IAS we are are experts in immigration law. If you need assistance in applying for an L-1A or L2 visa, get in touch with one of our qualified immigration attorneys. We can provide you with the best assistance and help guide you through your application journey.
Our legal services include:
- Ensuring your company has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company
- Checking if your role within your organization meets the L1 Visa requirements
- Liaising with your local business and its branch in the United States
- Guide you through the process of filing your I-129 Form
Get in touch today to arrange a consultation with an immigration attorney. You can use our contact form or call us on +1 844 290 6312.