L-1 visa is a temporary work visa that allows companies to transfer managers, executives and specialized knowledge employees from abroad to provide services to a related entity (i.e., branch, subsidiary or affiliate) in the U.S.
Spouses and unmarried children under age 21 may accompany or join the L-1 visa holder in L-2 visa status. Spouses on L-2 visa status are eligible to apply for work authorization.
L-1 Quick Facts
- The overseas company must have a qualifying relationship with the U.S. Company (must be a subsidiary, branch, affiliate or parent company of the U.S. company).
- Only employees in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity are eligible for L-1 visas.
- The L-1A visa is for Managers and Executives. The L-1B visa is for specialized knowledge employees. Employees applying for L-1 visa must have worked for the foreign company for at least one continuous year in the preceding three years of employment.
- Both L-1A and L-1B holders are eligible to apply for employed based permanent residency. However, the path to permanent residency is expedited for L-1A holders as individuals in this category do not need to attain labor certification approval (first stage for most employment based cases).
- Employees are not required to have a college or university degree.
- Employees may transfer or change their employer as long as all eligibility requirements are met.
- The period of stay in the U.S. is 7 years for those in the L-1A category (managerial or executive position) and five years for those in the L-1B category (specialized knowledge workers). Employees are eligible to apply for L-1 visas to open a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliate office in the United States. L-1 visas for new office filings are generally issued for an initial period of one year. Extensions may be granted thereafter.
- L-1 visa holders may travel in and out of the U.S on a valid visa that has not expired.
- Spouses and children below 21 years of age are eligible for L-2 visa status.
- Spouses in L-2 visa status may apply for work permits.
- L-1 employees may work part-time.
L-1 Visa Process
For L-1A and L-1B applicants:
- On behalf of the U.S. prospective employer, our firm prepares and files the L-1 petition along with the supplementing documents and fees with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Premium processing is available for the L visa category.
- Upon approval, the employer receives a Notice of Approval.
- The employer then notifies the worker and he/she may apply for the L-1 visa at the US consulate in his/her country of origin.
L-1 Blanket Petitions
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced the L-1 blanket petition program to facilitate the intra-company transfer of key personnel of large multinational organizations. The L-1 blanket petition is not for a specific individual. Instead, it is to be filed by a company in anticipation of future transfer of its employees to the U.S.
The petitioner must meet certain requirements to qualify for the blanket petition program:
- The petitioner and all branches, affiliates, and subsidiaries must be involved in commercial trade or services.
- The petitioner must have a branch in the U.S. that has been doing business for at least one year.
- The petitioning company must have at least three domestic or foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates
- The petitioner must also have one of the following:
- Obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals in the past year for executives, managers, or professional with specialized knowledge.
- Achieved U.S. sales of at least $25 million (combined annual sale of the listed entities).
- Employed a U.S. work force of at least 1000 employees.
L-1 Blanket Petition Process
- Our firm prepares and files the L-1 blanket petition on behalf of the petitioning organization.
- The USCIS may issue approval for the entire petition or only for certain entities listed in the petition. The approval notice will indicate the names of the corporate entities that may transfer personnel to the U.S.
- The approval is issued for an initial period of three years. However, the company may obtain an indefinite extension upon completion of the initial 3 year period.
- Upon approval of the petition, the L-1 applicant may apply for the visa with the blanket petition approval notice and all the required documents at the U.S. embassy/consulate in his/her home country.
Note: L-1 applicants being transferred under a blanket petition on or after June 26, 2005 must have worked for at least one year abroad for a company with a qualifying relationship with the petitioning company.