What is an L1 Visa?
The L-1 visa category provides a way for companies with offices in the U.S. and abroad to transfer foreign national employees to work in a U.S.-based office. The L-1 visa category is useful to companies of all sizes – while a small overseas company might use this category to transfer a manager to supervise the establishment of a U.S. branch office, a large multinational corporation might also use this classification to transfer a skilled employee to a U.S. office to address a targeted need. Form I-129 is used to initiate the L-1 visa application process.
Qualifications for L-1 Visas
To qualify for the L-1 visa category, the foreign national employee must have worked for the company outside of the U.S. for at least one continuous year within the last three years, and must be coming to the U. S. to work for a parent, subsidiary, branch or an affiliate company of the foreign employer in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity. Also, the U.S. employer must continue doing business in the U.S. and abroad for the duration of the L-1 employee's stay in the U.S.
While L-1 visas are a type of temporary work visa, those traveling to the U. S. with an L-1 visa may be able to extend their stay by eventually applying for a green card.
L-1 Visas: Blanket Petitions for Employers
Additionally, employers may file an L-1 blanket petition. The blanket petition for L-1 visas can be used to approve the transfer of a group of foreign national employees from a single company to the U. S.
L-1A Visas & L-1B Visas: What's the Difference?
Generally, L-1A visas are for managers and executives who may be admitted to the U.S. for up to seven years, while L-1B visas are for specialized knowledge employees who may only be admitted for up to five years.
When filing an L-1A petition for an executive, an employer will need to demonstrate, among other things, that a prospective foreign worker will have ability to make decisions of wide latitude over a U.S. company without much oversight. Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee's ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. When submitting an L-1B petition for a worker possessing specialized knowledge, an employer will be required to show that the prospective worker has special knowledge of the petitioning organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures.
L-1 New Office
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the U. S. as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
Help With L-1 Visas from an Experienced Immigration Lawyer
Depending on the job position, it can be confusing whether an L-1 visa applicant is best suited for an L-1A visa or an L-1B visa. Improper filing could delay your career plans. Whether you have questions about the type of L-1 visa to apply for or if you need guidance with the L-1 visa process, schedule a consultation with experienced business immigration lawyer, Anna Putintseva.
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Immigration requirements change frequently, and complying with the immigration process can be confusing. Mistakes could hinder your professional goals for years.