The L-1 visa is a temporary work visa for executive or managerial level employees (L-1A) or specialized knowledge workers (L-1B) employed by a multinational company abroad for more than one (1) year, and being transferred to a U.S. company with a qualified corporate relationship to the foreign employer.
L-1 General Requirements
- The employee must have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year in the preceding three years;
- The overseas company for which the employee has worked for a year abroad must have a qualified relationship to the U.S. company, such as parent/subsidiary, branch, affiliate;
- The U.S. company (and sponsoring employer) must be a qualifying organization – namely, one that is doing business in the United States and one other country during the entire period of approved U.S. L-1 employment;
- The transferring employee must have been employed abroad in an “executive” or “managerial” position (L-1A) or a position involving “specialized knowledge” (L-1B);
- The employee must be coming to the U.S. company to fill one of these capacities (Executive, Managerial, or Specialized Knowledge);
- 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.
L-1 For New Office
L-1 visa is available for opening new office in the U.S. In addition to the General Requirements above, the following requirements also apply:
- The U.S. Company must secure sufficient real estate;
- The employee must have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year in the preceding three years in executive or managerial capacity, and the proposed employment involves executive or managerial authority;
- Within 1 year of approval, the U.S. operation must show substantial growth and business operations to support an executive or managerial position.
Beneficiaries of L visas may be joined by their qualifying dependents (spouses and children). Qualifying dependents would apply for dependent L-2 visas and upon entrance into the U.S. are eligible to apply for work authorization.
An L-1 visa is granted initially for up to 3 years (L-1s for new offices are granted initially for 1 year). Additional extensions up to 7 years may also be obtained for Executives and Managers (L-1A); and up to 5 years for Specialized Knowledge Employees (L-1B).
Dual-Intent and Future Green Card Applications
An L-1 visa is a “dual intent” visa. This means that a person on an L-1 visa can have the temporary intent to work for an L-1 employer, but also have the intent to permanently reside in the U.S. Thus, because of this dual intent, a person on an L-1 visa can also simultaneously have their application for permanent residence (green card) pending – furthermore, the allowance for dual intent does not differentiate between family and employment based applications for permanent residence.
Blanket L-1 Visa petitions allow a qualified U.S. employer to apply for the L-1 Visa on behalf of multiple employees under a single petition. Generally, blanket petitions are only available for larger corporations as certain criteria must be met. Once the Blanket L-1 is approved, employers have greater flexibility in transferring employees to the United States.