L-1 International Company Transfer Visa

L-1 visas are for those persons who:

  • have worked outside the United States for one continuous year within the proceeding three years on a full time basis
  • have worked for a “qualifying organization” outside the United States as an executive, manager or in a “specialized knowledge”
  • are being transferred to the United States on to work for a subsidiary, branch or affiliate business in the United States.

L-1A visas are issued for employees working in an executive or managerial capacity whereas L-1B visas are those persons with specialized knowledge.

What is an Executive?

Executives are defined as persons who:

  1. direct the management of an organization or major component or function of an organization;
  2. establish goals and policies of the organization, component or function;
  3. exercise wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  4. receive only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the directors or
    shareholders of the organization.

What is a manager?

Managers are defined as employees who:

  1. manage an organization or a department, function, or component of such organization;
  2. supervise and control the work of supervisory, professional or other managerial employees;
  3. have the authority to hire and fire those persons supervised. If no other employees are supervised, the manager must function at a senior level in the organization;
  4. exercise discretion over the daily operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

What is “specialized knowledge”?

Specialized knowledge is defined as:

“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.”

Duration of L-1A and L-1B Visas

L-1A visas (managers or executives) are valid for a total period of seven years from the date of issuance. This visa may be extended if one resides in and commutes from Canada or Mexico to the United States for employment.

L-1B visas (specialized knowledge workers) are valid for a total period of five years. Again, if one is a commuter, this period may be extended.

Eligible L-1 Businesses

L-1 visas are available to employees working for companies outside the United States that have BRANCHES, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES OR JOINT VENTURE PARTNERS in the United States.

Each type of business relationship is precisely defined by the INS and legal advice is required to determine whether the business relationship complies with the INS definition

It is also important to note that the foreign business outside the U.S. must continue to operate during the L-1 transfer to the United States. This means that while the foreign worker is in the United States pursuant to the L-1 visa, the business outside the United States must be ongoing. The foreign business outside the United States should therefore retain at least one employee abroad during the duration of the L-1 visa status.

Getting a Green Card from an L-1A

Persons holding or persons who are eligible for a L-1A visa as an Executive or Manager may qualify for an employment based green card. In addition, you also can apply for a green card without having to undergo the rigorous process of Labor Certification which involves proving that
there are no U.S. workers who can fill the position offered by the U.S employer.

L-1 Visas for Canadians

Canadians have the benefit through NAFTA, of applying for L-1 visas at a U.S/Canadian port of entry rather than having to petition to an INS Service Center. This means that the Canadian employee can take all his or her documentation to a U.S. boarder and obtain his visa on the spot!

The L-1 Visa is Suitable For:

  • Foreign national executives being transferred to the U.S. to manage an organization or a
    major function or division of an organization
  • Foreign national managers being transferred to the U.S. to supervise work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department or subdivision
  • Specialized Knowledge employees of companies outside U.S. that have related U.S.
    branches, subsidiaries, affiliates or joint venture partners
  • Employees and partners of international accounting firms
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national executives to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer foreign national managers to supervise work of other
    supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or who manages an essential function, department or subdivision in the U.S.
  • Multinational companies to transfer employees with specialized knowledge such as, its
    products, research methods and marketing techniques.