L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transferees

June 2, 2016 | Appeals | Commercial Litigation | Corporate

An L-1 visa permits multinational companies to transfer qualifying employees from their foreign office to their United States office or to the office of its parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in the United States.  L-1 visas allow multinational companies to facilitate their expansion and to help establish an office in the United States. L-1 visas can also help small start-up companies operating abroad to expand their business to the United States.

To qualify for an L-1 visa, the United States employer must do business in the United States and in at least one other country during the foreign national’s temporary stay under the L-1 visa.  The foreign national must also have worked abroad for the qualifying organization for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his/her admission to the United States.  A foreign national with an L-1 visa must work continuously in the United States for the same employer who sponsored the visa.

An L-1A visa permits an employee in an executive or managerial capacity to work at a qualifying United States office.  A managerial capacity refers to the ability to supervise, fire, hire, and control the work of professional employees, as well as the ability to manage the organization or department of the organization. An executive capacity refers to the ability to make decisions and exercise wide-ranging discretion in the company’s decision making.

An L-1B visa permits an employee with specialized knowledge to work at a qualifying United States office.  Under the L-1B classification, specialized knowledge refers to either 1) specialized knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets; or 2) an advanced level of knowledge or expertise of the processes and procedures of the company.

An employer can seek an L-1 visa for an initial period of up to three years and extensions in increments of up to two years.  Managers and executives in the L-1A visa classification cannot exceed seven total years.  Employees with specialized knowledge in the L-1B visa classification cannot exceed five total years.

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