L-1A nonimmigrant classification is a business immigration visa which 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.
This visa category has a maximum time period of seven (7) years after which they must depart the U.S. and may only qualify for L-1 status again by returning and working abroad for at least 1 year for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company.
The L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.
This visa category unlike the L1A has a maximum time period of five (5) years after which the foreign national must depart the U.S. to return to work abroad for at least 1 year for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company.
Can L-1 Visa holders sponsor dependents?
Spouses and children who are under the age of 21 of the primary L-1 Beneficiary may be issued L-2 visas. Unlike the H-4 visa for Dependents, the L-2 spouse is provided with a means to work in the United States. Spouses can apply for the I-765 Request for Employment Authorization and work. Although some say it is not required to file for this document our immigration attorney recommends that the L-2 applies for this document for I-9 purposes. A copy of the marriage certificate and maintenance of the Principal L1 holder’s status will have to be submitted.
How do I Qualify for an L-1 Visa?
In order to qualify under this visa category a company must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations), and currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services often looks for the relationships between the US and foreign company in one of four ways: parent and subsidiary; branch and headquarters; sister companies owned by a mutual parent; or ‘affiliates’ owned by the same or people in approximately the same percentages
In addition the named employee must also have been working in appropriate capacity (managerial/specialized knowledge) for the qualifying organization abroad for at least one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the U.S. If you are unsure if you meet the qualifications for L1 nonimmigrant status we encourage you to contact a qualified business immigration lawyer who can provide an assessment of which category L1 would be right for you.
Regular L-1 visas, which must be applied for and approved for each individual by the USCIS; and
Blanket L-1 visas, which are available to employers that meet certain criteria.
Most L1 Visas must be filed at the corresponding U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services service center (Vermont Service Center, or California Service Center depending on job location). The company must file a petition for an international transfer on form I-129 with the USCIS. The service will review the documentation for both the Foreign Company, and the U.S. company as well as the proffered position. For L-1A visas these positions must be in an Executive, Managerial, or Essential Function to the organization. Petitions are usually approved in three year increments, with the exception of new office petitions. In this case the immigration petition would only be approved for one year. After the USCIS approves the petition, the L-1 worker/transferee must apply at the U.S. Consulate for the visa.
In the case of a blanket L-1 visa petition, it has already been determined by USCIS that the company qualifies for the issuance of Intracompany Transferee visas on wide scale basis. Larger international corporations will usually have a blanket approval on file with a consulate. In these cases the individual visa applicant need only file a copy of the approved blanket petition approval notice, along with documents supporting their personal qualifications, with the U.S. consulate or embassy having jurisdiction over their place of residence proving the applicant’s qualifications.
L-1A visas have strict requirements as to what the Service will consider to be a manager or executive position. It is important to have an immigration attorney family with this type of business immigration review your case to ensure it meets federal guidance for L-1 status.
Global Law Centers has processed over 500 international transfers as L1 visas for international organizations in Orange County, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Tustin, and Orange. Our immigration attorney is an expert in all types of business immigration visas including L1A and L1B. Please contact our office for a free consultation. For more information on L-1 Visas please visit our L-1 More Info page of L-1 FAQs