The L1 nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.
This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.
L1 Visa Overview
There are two types of L-1 Visa:
- The L1-A visa is for executives or managers of international companies. They allow an employee who is either in an executive role or a management-level role to transfer to the US operation. They can also come to the United States to set up a US operation.
- The L-1B visa is for “specialized employees” who have knowledge or skills that are critical to the company’s success.
In either case, the applicant must have worked for the company for at least one continuous year in the past three years.
Key Considerations for L1 Visa Applications
The most important things to ensure with an L1 visa application are to show that
- the nexus of the company are either affiliates or subsidiaries of the international company, and that
- the employee is working in the right type of job.
- Employer must have a “qualifying relationship” with a foreign company (parent, branch, subsidiary, affiliate), referred to as “qualifying organization, and
- Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and at least one other country through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1 visa
- Employers seeking to establish a new office must show sufficient physical premises, meet employee requirements below, and intend the new office will support an executive and/or managerial position within a year.
- “Doing business” means provision of goods and/or services does not mean mere presence of an agent or office in the U.S.
- Generally have worked for the organization abroad for one continuous year of the last three, and
- Be seeking to enter the U.S. to render services in an executive or managerial capacity
- Period of stay – the L-1 is granted for an initial 3 year period, with two possible extensions of 2 years each, totaling a 7 year stay altogether (employees entering for a new office are allowed a 1 year stay).
- Family of L-1 workers – A spouse and any unmarried children under 21 may accompany the L-1 recipient under an L-2 visa (generally granted for same period of stay). Spouses have no restriction regarding work.
Certain organizations may establish the required intra-company relationship in advance, called a “Blanket” petition. It allows the employer to transfer with short notice without having to file individually with USCIS. Requirements beyond what is mentioned above:
- Have 3 or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, affiliates.
- Must have one of the following: 1) at least 10 L-1 approvals in previous 12 months, 2) U.S. subsidiaries with combined annual sales of $25 million, or 3) U.S. workforce of 1,000 employees
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L1 Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Can a person with a L1 visa transfer/change jobs?
Yes, as long as the new employer files for new work visa petition such as H1 visa.
As an L1 visa holder, can I work part time?
No. You can only work for other employers or on your own. You can’t do other part-time jobs.