The L-1A is a non-immigrant classification that 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 United States. The L-1A 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. The L-1B classification permits multinational companies to transfer employees who possess “specialized knowledge” from their foreign operations to their operations in the United States. For more information, please see below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply for L-1 Visa?
Executives, managers, and employees with specialized knowledge from all countries are eligible to apply for the L-1 Visa. The applicant completes form I-129 supplement L to apply for the L visa.
What are the L-1 eligibility requirements?
To be eligible, the following conditions must be met:
- The employee must have been working for the foreign company abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his/her admission to the U.S. as an executive, manager, or in specialized knowledge; AND be seeking to enter the U.S. to provide service in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity for the U.S. company.
- The foreign company and the U.S. company must have a qualifying relationship. This means that the foreign company must own at least 50% of the U.S. company.
- The foreign company and the U.S. company must be doing business in the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services.
- The business conducted has to be viable but it does not have to be international trade.
- The U.S. company must be able to support the position of an Executive or Manager within one year. This last requirement is very complicated. The USCIS is essentially looking for a multi-tiered organizational structure of at least three or more tiers where a position of a manager or executive is clearly needed within that organization.
What is an Executive or Manager?
For L-1 purposes an executive is defined as the following: An employee that primarily
- directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
- who establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
- who exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
- receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.
For L-1 purposes a manager is defined as the following: An assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily
- manages the organization, or department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
- supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization.
- If another employee or other employees are directly supervised, has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization), or if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
- Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.
Tiered organizational structure?
For the L-1 to be successful, the USCIS is essentially looking for a multitiered organizational structure of at least three or more tiers where a position of a manager or executive is clearly needed within that organization.
How long is an L-1 visa valid for?
If the new office has been open for one year or less before the L-1 is filed, the applicant is given an initial period of one year. If the office has been open and running for more than one year, the applicant may be given an initial period of three years.
What happens after one year in L-1 visa?
The L-1 applicant typically files for an extension of the L-1 visa to give him or her additional time to build up the business and hire enough employees. Typical extensions are for a period of two years for a maximum period of seven years.
Can I apply for Permanent Resident status with an L-1 visa?
Yes. If the U.S. office has been opened for at least one year AND the office can sustain the position of an Executive or Manager, any applicant who is an Executive or Manager of the foreign company or U.S. company may file for adjustment of status under the EB1-C category.
What does it mean that the U.S. office can sustain the position of an Executive or Manager?
The USCIS is usually looking for a organizational structure with at least three tiers. The employees working under the Executive or the Manager usually need to have at least a bachelor’s degree and they must have people underneath them.
Can I bring my spouse and children with me?
Yes, the primary applicant can bring his or her spouse and children with them. The entire family is usually processed simultaneously through the U.S. Embassy in their home country.
Can my spouse and children work in the U.S. while I am in an L-1 status?
The spouse can separately file for work authorization but children are not allowed to work.