What is L-1 Intracompany Transferee visa
The L-1 non-immigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer qualifying employees from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. It also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send employees to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The employee qualified under this classification should be either as an executive or manager or with specialized knowledge.
Based on that, the L-1 visa has two subcategories:
- L-1A for executives and managers;
- L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge.
Most requirements and processes within the L1 visa are the same for both subsidiary types. However, there are a few key differences between the L1A and L1B visas. These differences are in regards to the length of stay allowed for the visa and the process to later apply for a green card.
General Requirements of the Employer and Employee
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer 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[i] 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.
To qualify, the named employee must also:
- 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 services in an executive or managerial capacity[ii] or a specialized knowledge capacity[iii] to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Establishing New Offices
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises 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 intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
Period of Stay
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.
[i] Doing business means 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.
[ii] 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.
[iii] Specialized Knowledge means either special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.