L-1 VISA – Intra-Company Transferees (more info)
What is an L-1 intra-company transfer visa?
L-1 intra-company transfer visas are non-immigrant visas available to persons who work for an overseas company with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the U.S. The worker comes to the U.S. to temporarily perform services in a managerial or executive position (L-1A) or, a position which entails specialized knowledge (L-1B) for a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate company of the employer/company abroad. There is currently no annual cap on L-1 visas.
What are the requirements for an L-1 intra-company transfer visa?
How are “manager” and “executive” defined?
A “manager” is defined as one who primarily:
An “executive” defined as one who primarily:
How is “specialized knowledge” defined?
Specialized knowledge is defined as one who has specialized knowledge of the company product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its application in world markets; or, as one with advanced or proprietary knowledge of the company’s processes or procedures.
Characteristics of a person with “specialized knowledge” include:
What are the time limits for L-1A visa holders?
L-1A visa holders (managers and executives) may stay in L-1 status for up to seven years. In most cases, the visas will be granted in three year increments.
What are the time limits for L-1B visa holders?
L-1B visa holders (specialized knowledge employees) may stay in L-1 status for up to five years. The first petition will be granted for up to three years.
Special rules for persons coming to work in a new office in the U.S.
A new office is defined as “an organization which has been doing business in the U.S. through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for less than one year.” The definition requires the new office to “be doing business”; therefore, the mere presence of an agent or office is not enough to satisfy the new office requirement. In order to qualify for an L-1 where a new office is involved, the U.S. employer must submit evidence that:
Workers coming to open up a new office in the U.S. will only be granted an L-1 visa for a period of one year. If the company wants to have the L-1 visa extended beyond the initial year, it will have to demonstrate at the time of extension that it has proceeded with the plans outlined in the initial petition and the business is active and operating.
The USCIS closely scrutinizes cases where the transferred employee also has an ownership interest in the company, since they cannot be certain that the owner intends to ever leave the U.S. Therefore, the U.S. employer will need to show that their need for the transferee is not indefinite and that the transferee’s foreign business interests are a strong lure for the person to return upon the expiration of the transferee’s stay in the U.S.
How do I apply for L-1 status?
The L-1 Petition is filed by the U.S. Employer using Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Visa, and L Supplement. The forms should be accompanied by a letter of support from the U.S. Employer, documentary evidence described above, and the appropriate filing fee. The L-1 Petition is filed with the USCIS Regional Service Center having jurisdiction over the area of intended employment. L-1 Petitions are approved in three year increments, unless the U.S. employer is a new office in which case the 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. The Consulate normally issues the visa unless it believes the USCIS has been defrauded or was not aware of important information at the time of issuing the approval.
What if my company has a large number of applicants?
There are special procedures that make it easier for companies sending over large numbers of applicants to get L-1 visas for their employees. Companies that qualify can receive a “blanket approval” for all of their workers rather than having to apply to USCIS individually for each employee. To qualify for a blanket petition, the U.S. Employer (Petitioner) must meet the following requirements:
The procedures for filing are largely similar to that of a regular L-1 petition, except that the employer must complete Form I-129S and must submit evidence showing the above requirements are met. In addition, the U.S. employer’s petition letter can be replaced with a company letter summarizing the basis for the L-1 petition.
What visa status would the spouse and children of an L-1 nonimmigrant receive?
Spouses and children of L-1 visa holders may be granted L-2 visas. The 5 and 7 year time limitations on admission and extensions for L-1s apply to spouses and children.
Can my spouse work while in the U.S. in L-2 status?
Recent changes in the law made spouses of L-1 visa holders eligible for employment authorization. An L-2 spouse can apply for work authorization upon entering the U.S. by filing an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center.
In addition to the I-129 base fee, there is a Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500.00 for new petitions. This fee is collected only one time for a petition involving a beneficiary and an employer. It is submitted to the USCIS at the time of filing