The L-1A Non-Immigrant classification enables a US employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices abroad to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.
In addition, if the business remains viable, meaning that it can show a profit or imminent profit potential, the L-1A holder and his or her dependents can apply for a Green Card after the first year.
If you are a CEO, manager, executive, or professional with specialized knowledge who plans to bring your expertise to an existing US office, or to open a new US office of your company, ask yourself the following questions below:
- Are you a manager, executive,or a “specialized knowledge” employed by a foreign business entity?
- Have you been working abroad for at least one continuous year within the past 3 years?
- Is your the company of your foreign employer related to the U.S. business you will establish?
- Will the foreign entity continue to do business once you leave for the US?
- Will you be coming to the United States to open a new office location for your company?
- Will the new office be active and operating shortly after you arrive in the United States as an L-1?
If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, you may be eligible for the L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa. Read below to learn more about the process and whether you may qualify for the visa.
General Qualifications 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 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. (“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.)
2. 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 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.
“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.
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.
The L-1 Visa is divided into two sub-categories: L-1A for Executives or Managers, and L1-B for employees with “Specialized Knowledge.”
I. L-1A VISA: EXECUTIVES OR MANAGERS
The L-1A enables a U.S. employer to transfer an Executive or Manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the US.
Eligibility: Must show applicant worked for the company outside of the US for 1 continuous year out of last 3 years.
Length of Stay: The visa holder is allowed to remain in the US for a maximum of one year to establish a new office. All other qualified employees are entitled to a maximum initial 3-year stay, plus they are eligible for additional 2-year extensions (up to 7 years total).
Availability: No cap on the number of visas available.
Deadlines: No deadline to apply.
II. L-1B VISA FOR EMPLOYEES WITH “SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE”
Enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the US or establish a new office.
“Specialized knowledge” is 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
Maximum Stay: Time to establish a new office: one year. All others are entitled to a maximum initial stay of 3 years, with renewals of 1-2 years (max 5 years total).
DO YOU QUALIFY?
To find out if you qualify for the L-1 visa, and how to complete an application, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.
The Grady Firm has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, California, and its attorneys work remotely with clients from around the globe. We also specialize in helping foreign entrepreneurs establish viable businesses in the United States. Se habla español.
*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular case, as each case has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by licensed attorney.