L-1 Visas: Intra-Corporate Transferees

In the 21st century, more and more businesses around the world are becoming interconnected. The L-1 visa allows employees of foreign companies to come to the U.S. as “intra-corporate transferees”, to work for affiliated companies in the U.S. The L-1 permits managerial/executive or “specialized knowledge” employees of foreign companies to enter the U.S. to work for a U.S. branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate of their foreign employer. The L-1 visa is employer-sponsored, but may be used either by an established U.S. company, or by a new office with a qualifying relationship to an overseas entity. L-1 visas fall into two sub-categories. These are:

L-1A:  for “executive” or “managerial” employees:

L-1A visas are for intra-company transferees coming to work in the United States in a “managerial” or “executive” capacity. Holders of L-1A status may qualify for up to seven (7) years of authorized employment. To qualify for L-1A status:

  • employee must have been employed in an executive or managerial capacity for a foreign company;
  • employee must have been employed by the foreign company for at least one year during the three years preceding the filing of the application;
  • employee must be coming to the U.S. company to work for a “qualifying organization” i.e. a U.S. entity that is a branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate of the foreign company;
  • employee must be transferring to the U.S. to work in an executive or managerial capacity;
  • employee must have education and experience that qualifies him/her for the position;
  • L-1 visa holder must intend to depart the U.S. upon completion of his/her authorized stay.

L-1B:  for “specialized knowledge” employees:

L-1B visas are for intra-company transferees coming to work in the United States in a “specialized knowledge” capacity. Holders of L-1B status may qualify for up to five (5) years of authorized employment. To qualify for L-1B status:

  • employee must have been employed in a “specialized knowledge” capacity for a foreign company;
  • employee must have been employed by the foreign company for at least one year during the three years preceding the filing of the application;
  • employee must be coming to the U.S. company to work for a “qualifying organization” i.e. a U.S. entity that is a branch, subsidiary, parent or affiliate of the foreign company;
  • employee must be transferring to the U.S. to work in a “specialized knowledge” capacity;
  • employee must have education and experience that qualifies him/her for the position;
  • L-1 visa holder must intend to depart the U.S. upon completion of his/her authorized stay.

The spouses and dependent children of L-1 visa holders may apply for L-2 visas. Spouses and adult children with L-2 status may apply for employment authorization in the U.S.

The preparation of a successful Petition for L-1 status depends on an experienced understanding of the law, regulations and definitions, and their interpretation by the CIS. For additional information about L visas, and to review the terms such as: “managerial”, “executive”, “specialized knowledge”, “qualifying organization” and others, please contact us.