Frequently Asked Questions for L1 VISA (Intracompany Transferee)
What is the purpose of the L-1 Visa?
One of the most beneficial non-resident visas is the L-1 which is for employees of foreign companies. The L-1 visa’s purpose is to simplify the transfer of vital employees to the U.S. from companies that are associated with U.S. corporations. Employees from any country are eligible, as long as the specific visa qualifications are met.
Is dual intent allowed for the L-1 visa holder?
The answer is yes. The L-1 visa does not prevent the non-resident from seeking legal permanent residence even if they are pursuing or are present in the U.S. on an L-1 visa.
Who should file for the L-1 visa? What should be filed to get an L-1 visa?
A U.S. employer that wants the transfer of a qualified worker to the U.S. must first get USCIS permission by filing an application to classify the non-resident as a temporary worker (Form I-129) along with a special L supplement with the USCIS.
Where should I file an I-129 Form?
You should file the I-129 form with either the California Service Center (CSC) or the Vermont Service Center (VSC), depending on the employment location. If the non-resident is going to be employed in several locations, the employer’s location will determine at which center (CSC or VSC) the form I-129 should be filed.
What is the difference between an L-1A and an L-1B visa?
The two categories of employees who can be sponsored for an L-1 visa are:
The manager or executive should have supervisory duty for a vital function, subdivision or department and/or for professional staff of the employer. L-1A visas are issued for these employees for three years with a possible extension in two year segments for a maximum of seven years.
L-1B: Specialized Knowledge Employees
This classification covers employees with expertise in the company’s systems, management, products/services, procedures, proprietary techniques, or research. L-1B visas are issued for employees in this classification for three years with a possible extension for a maximum of five years.
If I have an L-1 visa, how long can I stay in the U.S.?
Seven years is the maximum duration of the L-1A visa for executives and managers and the L-1B has a maximum duration of five years for employees with specialized expertise. The initial duration is for three years and may be given extensions for additional years. If the specialized knowledge employee had been carrying out managerial or executive duties for the previous six months, immigration rules allow an L-1 employee to add extensions of up to a seven year limit, and the USCIS was notified by filing an amended application. The L-1 visa is issued for one year with possible extensions in a new office situation. Extensions are granted in two-year segments: managers and executives can receive two extensions, and specialized knowledge employees can receive one extension.
What form should be filed for L-1 visa extensions?
For I-129 and L supplements are the forms for seeking extensions which will include both the application extension and the non-resident’s stay extension. Form I-539 should be used for family member’s extensions and should be filed at the same time as the application extension request. The application extension should be supplemented by an employer letter detailing the ongoing employment and by a copy of Form I-94 for the non-resident and each family member. Depending on location, the extension should be filed with either the CSC or the VSC.
How long should the non-resident have been employed by the overseas company?
Prior to U.S. entry, the employee being transferred must have been employed continuously by the foreign company for at least one year out of the last three years. The employee will not be disqualified from the visa because of pleasure trips or short business trips to the U.S. during the one year period; however, extended visits or trips to the U.S. may be considered an interruption of the one-year employment requirement by the USCIS.
What relationship is required between the overseas and the U.S. companies?
The previous employer/foreign company should be connected to the U.S. company either as a division, affiliate, or subsidiary. Usually, the relationship must be proven to the USCIS. Documentation of the U.S.-foreign corporation relationship may not need to be evidenced for large, recognized multinational corporations.
Does the qualifying company have to be a corporation?
The answer is no. Immigration guidelines permit qualifying companies to be businesses other than a corporation. Sole proprietorships and partnerships can be L-1 visa qualifying companies. In a non-corporate setting, it must be established that the transferring employee is separate from the employing company. The L-1 visa may be available for a large, well-known company that operates as something other than a corporation, but it will be much more difficult to separate the economic and business identities.
What if the overseas company ceases to exist?
The L-visa petitioning company must continue to be a qualifying entity. The foreign business must remain a viable business during the employment of the L-1 visa holder. If the foreign business ceases to function or exist as a viable business, then the L-visa of the employee is at risk.
What are the non-resident’s qualifications for an L-1 visa?
The law requires the L-1 visa holder to be an executive, manager, or person with specialized expertise in the foreign entity and that they continue in these capacities in the U.S. company.
Who is a “manager” for the purpose of an L-1 visa?
The definitions for “manager” and “executive” are the same as EB-1C Multinational Executives and Managers. The definitions of “manager” for legal purposes are:
One who largely manages the component, subdivision, department, or function of the organization. Adding the function concept gives the definition more value for smaller companies since a key function is mostly run and managed by the same person; or
One who largely controls and supervises the work of other managerial, professional, or supervisory employees, or manages a critical function within the subdivision, organization, or department of the organization; or
One who has the ability to recommend, hire and fire as well as other personnel actions if other employees are supervised; when there is no employee supervision, functions at a senior level within the entity and organizational hierarchy; or
One who is responsible for the daily operations of the function or activity where the employee has authority.
Who is an “executive” for the purpose of the L-1 Visa?
An executive is defined for legal purposes as someone who:
Leads the administration of the entity or a key function or component;
Determines the policies and goals of the function, component, or organization;
Uses a broad scope in unrestricted decision-making; and
Receives only broad direction or supervision from stockholders, the board of directors, or higher level executives of the organization.
Who is a “person of specialized knowledge“?
A “person of specialized knowledge” must have unique or special knowledge of the petitioning organization’s management, research, techniques, product, equipment, service, or other interests and its function in international markets, or an advanced level of expertise or knowledge in the organization’s procedures and processes. “Special knowledge” is knowledge that is unique or exceeds the usual or ordinary knowledge of an employee in a specific area.
Does the position to be filled in the U.S. company have to be identical with the one held by the non-resident abroad?
The position is not required to be identical or have the exact responsibilities as the that was previously held abroad, but the U.S. position must be of an equivalent classification as the original position.
Is there an annual quota for L-1 visas?
The answer is no. There is not an annual quota for L-1 visas.
What visa does the spouse and children of an L-1 visa holder have?
The L-1 visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 are admitted with L-2 visas which enables them to study full-time in the U.S., but only the spouse is allowed to get work approval.
Can my family join me if I obtain an L-1 visa?
The L-1 worker’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 can get L-2 visas. Immigration law changes allow spouses to get work approval in the U.S., and dependents can study at U.S. schools and colleges.
What are the main advantages of obtaining an L-1 visa?
There are several advantages for the L-1 category over other kinds of work visas. There is no annual limit on the number of visas that can be issued, and L-1 holders can apply for permanent residency. Some L-1 executives and managers can apply for a green card without labor certification. Additionally, dependents can apply for work approval.
Does the U.S. employer need to provide prevailing wage like H-1B visas?
The answer is no. Prevailing wage of similar U.S. workers is not a requirement for L-1 visas. The U.S. income must be sufficient to prevent the worker from needing public assistance.
What does the legal fee cover?
Our firm will provide all services necessary to file the L-1 application, including:
Contacting the employer to discuss and facilitate sponsorship for your application;
Drafting the employment verification letter which provides a description of your business, qualifications, and position for the employer to review and sign;
Providing a list of supporting evidence for the application;
Organizing the required evidence for the L-1 application according to the USCIS guidelines;
Drafting and revising the application letter to your satisfaction;
Submitting the completed application documentation to the correct USCIS Center; and
Contacting the USCIS to check the status of the pending case.
What is the filing fee of an L-1 visa?
All petition-based visas (H, L, O, R, P, Q) have a filing fee of $325. There are additional fees for certain employers.
Frequently Asked Questions for L1 VISA (Intracompany Transferee)