Known as an ‘Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager’ classification, the L-1A Visa is intended either for those who are employed by a foreign branch of a U.S. company seeking to relocate them to a position within the U.S. itself, or a foreign company looking to dispatch an executive to the U.S. so that he or she may establish a new, U.S.-based branch. Executives or managers transferring to an established U.S. office will have a three year period of stay, while those establishing new offices have only a single year. In either instance, extensions are granted by two year increments up to a maximum of seven years. In either instance, spouses and unmarried children prior to turning 21 may apply for L-2 nonimmigrant classification, which grants them a stay equivalent to that of the L-1A holder. Spouses of L-1 visa holders are eligible to receive unrestricted employment authorization.
Both the applicant and their employer must meet certain qualifying conditions. These conditions include: proving the applicant has a current and ongoing relationship with the petitioning employer as an executive or manager for at least one continuous year in the three years prior to application – should they be employed by the foreign branch of a U.S. company – or that the applicant themself will be establishing an office to serve as an employer in the U.S. for a company with at least one branch in a foreign nation. In the second of these two instances, employers must also prove acquisition of a physical office adequate for their needs as a company that within one year will be ready to support the applicant’s needs as an executive or manager, a position they have held for at least a year in the three preceding their employer’s petition.
Alternately, the L-1B Visa pertains to an intracompany transfer of an employee with specialized knowledge either of the company’s international market-facing product, service, or other interest; or its processes and procedures at a level significantly more advanced than others. The transfer can be between a foreign and domestic branch of a U.S. company, or a foreign company seeking to establish a U.S. office using the specialized knowledge an employee possesses.
An L-1B allows for family members, including spouses and unmarried children under 21, to apply for L-2 status for a duration parallel to that of the L-1B. The L-1B can extended by three years per renewal for those employed by a multinational U.S.-based company, while those using their specialized knowledge to establish a U.S. branch of a foreign company are limited to one year renewals; both instances have five year renewal limits.
To qualify for L-1B status, an applicant must work in tandem with their foreign employer to prove their qualifying relationship for at least one uninterrupted year out of the three preceding the petition’s filing. The petitioner must also show that the U.S. company is a subsidiary, affiliate, or branch of the foreign company, and that the applicant will act as an employer within in the U.S. It must also be demonstrated that the applicant’s work will contribute specialized services, based on their advanced knowledge of the company and its output, to the employer or one of its qualifying allied organizations. Foreign employers founding branches in the U.S. must also verify that their workspace is sufficient to the company’s needs, and that they have sufficient funds to compensate employees hired within the U.S.
Companies that transfer 25 or more employees to the U.S. may file a blanket petition. This simplifies the visa for future transferees, who will no longer require an individual petition and can transfer much more quickly. Blanket petition approval requires evidence that the petitioning company – which has operated its own office in the U.S. for at least a year, and has at least three branches globally – and its qualifying U.S. partners are engaged in international trade or services, and that the company and its partners have either received ten prior, individual L-1 approvals across the year preceding filing of the blanket petition; see at least US$25 million in sales, annually; or have at least a thousand employees currently working in the U.S. Employees transferring under an L-1 blanket petition need only submit proof of said petition’s approval and Form I-129S, completed by their employer, to a consular officer. Once an L-1 blanket petition is approved, applicants can simply bring bridged documents to an embassy. Note that L-1 exemptions exist for Canadian citizens, who need only present Form 1-129s and supporting document
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