The L-1 visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa, which allows qualified overseas companies
to relocate foreign qualified employees to its U.S. parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of
that company. There are several different types of L1 visas. L-1A visa is specifically
designed for intra-company executive or manager transferees. The L-1B visa is designed for
intra-company transfers of employees with specialized knowledge.
To qualify for L-1 visa application, the Petitioning Employer must:
• The company must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, such as a parent company, branch office, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company. These are
collectively referred to as qualifying entities or qualifying organizations. The entities may
include corporations, non-profits, religious or charitable organizations.
• The company must also be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
Doing business refers to the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
Some of these L1 employer’s requirements are easy to meet and do not require extensive
documentation, especially if the employer is well known and a well-established company.
However, when the company is small or just beginning, the employer should be prepared to provide extensive documentation to establish their eligibility for the L1 visa. We therefore strongly recommend in this case that they seek the professional services of an experienced immigration attorney.
The qualifications for the L1A Beneficiary Employee are:
• The alien employee must have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States. Any time spent working in the United States will not count toward the one year of required employment.
• The employee must have been employed abroad in an executive or managerial position,
otherwise known as a qualifying position.
• The employee must be coming to the U.S. to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
According to federal law, Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to
make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. Managerial capacity generally
refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional
employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or
component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an
essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.
• The employee must be qualified for the position by virtue of his or her prior education and experience.
• The L-1 visa holder must intend to depart the United States upon completion of his or her authorized stay.
One of the benefits of the L1 visa program is that it allows companies the opportunity to relocate employees to the United States to expand their business and open up new offices. For foreign companies who want to send an L-1 visa employee to the United States for the
purpose of establishing a new office, the following criteria must also be met:
- The company must have secured a sufficient physical premise to house the new office.
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The new U.S. office will support the said executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position within one year of receiving petition approval.