An L-1 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time, from three months to seven years.
L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad.
The US and non-US employers must be related in one of four ways: parent and subsidiary; branch and headquarters; sister companies owned by a mutual parent.
The L-1 classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to help establish one, with additional requirements.
Spouses of L-1 visa holders are allowed to work without restriction in the US (using an L-2 visa), and the L-1 visa may legally be used as a stepping stone to a green card under the doctrine of dual intent.
Types of L-1 Visas
The L-1 visa has two subcategories:
The legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two year increments to a maximum of seven years. for executives and managers, valid for up to 7 years
Specialized Knowledge Staff
This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staff in this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for three years extendible to a maximum of five years.
A petition to change status to L1A may be filed on behalf of a foreign national in L1B status in order for the individual to moving into a managerial or executive position. However, in order for the L1B worker to be eligible for the full 7 years of L-1 status typically provided to L1A workers, the petition must be approved by the USCIS at least 6 months prior to the individual reaching the 5-year maximum period in L1B status.
To qualify, the named employee must :
- Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
- Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
- Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.
1. Application to an L-1 visa begins with the filing of a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-129, along with supporting documentation showing that both the U.S. company and the foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch meet the qualifying factors set forth in the law and regulations.
2. Notice of approval of the Form I-129 is given by the USCIS on a Notice of Action, Form I-797, and using this as the basis of the application, the alien may apply for visa issuance at a consulate or embassy of the United States in the country having jurisdiction over their residence.
3. For an L-1 visa applicant, "dual Intent" is allowed: unlike some classes of non-immigrant visas (e.g., J-1 visas), L-1 applicants may not be denied a visa on the basis that they are an intending immigrant to the United States, or that they do not have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon.
Costs include a filing fee of $325, an anti-fraud fee of $500, and an optional $1225 fee for premium processing. In addition, there is a $2,250 fee for petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the United States with more than 50 percent of their employees in the United States in H-1B or L (including L-1A and L-1B) nonimmigrant status.