L1 Visa USA: Important Information on the L1 Visa
The L1 visa is a powerful immigration option for people looking to live and work in the USA. The L1 visa allows foreign businesses to transfer certain employees to a US branch, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate company.
With the L1, there are two options. The L1A is a visa meant for managers and executives. The L1B is a visa meant for employees with specialized knowledge.
In this article, we’re going to run through the most important facts about the L1 and cover all the essential details that you need to know about this special visa.
- Basics of the L1 Visa
- Main Requirements of the L1 Visa
- What to Submit for Your L1 Petition, and How to Apply
1. Basics of the L1 Visa
The L1 is reserved for foreign companies looking to transfer their own workers to U.S. parent/subsidiary companies, branches, or affiliates. For the L1A, this includes executives or managers. For the L1B, this includes individuals with specialized knowledge.
The US company must be a branch office, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company. In the case that a foreign company is looking to start a new office in the US, the foreign company can set up the US company with the intent of transferring L1 employees to that office. An important fact to note is that the L1 employee must have been employed by the foreign office for at least one year before transferring.
The period of stay authorized by the L1 varies. For the L1A, a maximum of 7 years is granted. For the L1B, a maximum of 5 years is granted. The initial period of stay for L1 is 3 years, with the ability to extend further. It is also possible that your family can join you in your stay as dependents through the L2 visa.
The L1 is also a dual intent visa, which means there are no restrictions on being able to pursue permanent residency simultaneously. There are also no wage requirements for the L1. As long as the petitioning company complies with state and federal law regarding the minimum wage, L1 employees can be compensated at any rate.
2. Main Requirements of the L1 Visa
In order to get an L1 visa, there are 4 main requirements:
- A qualifying relationship must exist between the foreign company and US company;
The relationship between the two companies must be material. One office can be a parent and the other office can be a subsidiary. The offices can be branches of one another. Or, the offices can be affiliates. In other words, it must be either two offices of the same employer or they are sufficiently related. To show this relationship, two important factors are ownership and control of the companies.
- The L1 employee must have been continuously employed by the foreign company for at least 1 year within a 3-year period;
The employment must be full-time and continuous. Certain evidence can be submitted to satisfy this, such as payroll records.
- The employee must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity for L1A, or be coming to work in a specialized knowledge capacity for L1B;
Managerial Capacity means that you primarily:
- Manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
- Supervise and control the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manage an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
- You have the authority to hire and fire or recommend those types of personnel actions for employees directly supervised. If no employees are directly supervised, you function at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed;
- And, you exercise discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function that you have authority over. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity just by virtue of their supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional. [Code of Federal Regulations Section 214.2(l)]
Executive Capacity means that you primarily:
- Direct the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
- Establish the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
- Exercise wide latitude in discretionary decision-making;
- And, receive only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization. subdivision, function, or component of the organization. [Code of Federal Regulations Section 214.2(l)]
Specialized knowledge is “special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets” or “an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company. [Code of Federal Regulations Section 214.2(1)]
- The employee must have also worked for the foreign company in a managerial or executive capacity for L1A, or have worked in a specialized knowledge capacity for L1B.
Just as for the US position, the work at the foreign company must have satisfied the definitions of managerial capacity, executive capacity, or specialized knowledge as defined by US law.
It is possible that an employee from a foreign company who worked as a specialized knowledge worker can come to the US to work as a manager or executive, and it is also possible that a manager or executive from a foreign company can come to work in a specialized knowledge position. If pursued, it must be shown that the knowledge at the foreign position prepared the worker sufficiently to work in the US position.
3. What to Submit for Your L1 Petition, and How to Apply
While an exhaustive list of evidence will vary based on your situation, the basics need for assembling a L1 petition include:
- A copy of your passport, and copies of passports of your family members;
- Your resume or CV;
- A detailed job description which outlines the position in the US;
- A detailed description of your duties in the foreign company;
- General information about the US company;
- General information about the foreign company.
An experienced immigration lawyer can assist you with document collection and all stages of the application process.
The application process involves sending a collection of evidence, along with the Form I-129 and the I-129 L Supplement, to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While it is possible to do a change of status within the US, many applicants will instead submit their petition to USCIS and then apply at their appropriate consulate.
Once approved, you will be granted the ability to live and work in the US on L1 status. As stated previously, the L1A visa can be extended for a total of 7 years, and the L1B can be extended for a total of 5 years. Both visas are granted for 3-year initial periods of stay. They can both be extended twice. This means that a L1A extension will be granted for 2 years, and a L1B extension will be granted for 1 year.
While the L1 visa application process contains many complexities, you should now be familiar with the most important and essential facts on the L1 visa and the L1 visa application process. If you, someone you know, or someone within your company is considering the L1 visa, it is highly recommended you work with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.
If you have any questions, or if you need help filing your L1 petition, email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m a US immigration lawyer and I would be happy to help you.
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Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.