Frequently Asked Questions for L1 VISA (Intracompany Transferee)

What is the purpose of L-1 Visa?

The L-1 visa is one of the most useful nonimmigrant visas available to employees of foreign companies. The purpose of the L-1 visa is to facilitate the transfer of key employees to the United States from companies that are affiliated with or related to United States corporations. Nationals of all countries are eligible, provided the specific qualifications for the visa are satisfied.

Is the L-1 visa holder allowed to have dual intent?

Yes. Like the H-1B, the L-1 visa does not preclude the person from seeking lawful permanent residence while pursuing or being present in the United Sates on an L-1 visa.

Who needs to file L visa? What should be filed to obtain an L visa?

A U.S. employer seeking to transfer a qualifying employee of the same organization to the United States must first obtain USCIS permission to do so, by filing a petition to classify nonimmigrant as temporary worker, Form I-129 and a special L supplement to the form, with the USCIS.

Where should I-129 Forms be filed?

I-129 forms should be filed with either the Vermont Service Center or the California Service Center, depending on the location of employment. When the foreign national will be employed in multiple locations, the state in which the employer is located will determine whether the I-129 form is filed with the VSC or CSC.

What are the differences between L-1A and L-1B visas?

There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for L-1 visas:

  1. L-1A: Managers/Executives
    The executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L-1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two year increments to a maximum of seven years.
  2. L-1B: Specialized Knowledge Staff:
    This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staff in this category are issued an L-1B visa, initially for three years extendible to a maximum of five years.

How long can I stay in the United States if I have the L-1 Visa?

The L-1A visa has duration up to seven years for managers and executives and L-1B up to five years for persons of specialized knowledge. The duration of stay is issued for an initial period of three years and may be extended for additional periods. The immigration rules permit an L-1 specialized knowledge employee to extend stay to the seven-year limit if the specialized knowledge employee had actually been performing executive or managerial duties for the preceding six months prior to the extension request, and the USCIS had been notified of the change of duties through the filing of an amended petition. In the case of a new office, the visa is issued for one year and extensions are possible. Extensions can be granted in two-year increments: executives and managers can obtain two such extensions, and specialized knowledge personnel one such extension.

What form should be filed for L-1 visa extensions?

Extensions are sought on Form I-129 and L supplements; this form encompasses both the petition extension and the foreign national's extension of stay. Form I-539 must be used for the extension of stay of family members and must be filed concurrently with the petition extension request. The petition extension must also be accompanied by a letter from the employer describing the continuing employment and by a copy of Form I-94 for the foreign worker and each family member. The extension should be filed with either the VSC or the CSC, depending on the location.

How long must the foreign worker have been employed by the overseas company?

The employee who is to be transferred must have been continuously employed by the overseas company for a period of at least one year out of the last three years prior to entry to the United States. Short business or pleasure trips to the United States during the one year period will not disqualify the employee from the visa; however, extended trips or visits to the United States may be considered by the USCIS as an interruption of the one-year foreign employment requirement.

What kind of relationship is required between the overseas and the U.S. companies?

The prior employer/foreign company must be related to the U.S. company, either as a subsidiary, affiliate or division. In most cases, the relationship must be documented to the USCIS. The documentation of the U.S.-foreign corporation relationship may not need to be documented in the case of large, well-known multinational corporations.

Does the qualifying company have to be a corporation?

No. The immigration regulations permit entities other than a corporation to serve as a qualifying company. Partnerships and even sole proprietorships can serve as qualifying companies for L-1 visa purposes. In a noncorporate setting, it is important to establish that the employing company is separate entity from the employee being transferred. In the case of a larger, well-established company which operates in a legal form other than a corporation, the L-1 visa may be still available but there will be a heavier burden of proof to establish the separate business and economic identity of the company.

What if the overseas company ceases to exist?

The petitioning company of an L-visa must continue to be qualifying organization. The foreign company must continue as a viable business entity throughout the employment period of the L-1 visa holder. If the foreign entity ceases to exist or ceases to function as a viable business entity, then the L-visa of the employee is jeopardized.

What are foreign workers' qualifications for an L visa?

The law requires that the L-1 visa holder to be a manager, executive or a person with specialized knowledge in the foreign entity and continue to act in these qualifying capacities in the U.S. company.

Who is a “manager“ for the purpose of L visa?

The definitions of “manager“ and “executive“ are the same with those for the purpose of EB1-C Multinational Managers and Executives. Here are the definitions of “manager“ in law:

  1. Someone who primarily manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. The addition of the concept function gives the definition more usefulness for smaller companies or companies in which a key function is primarily managed and run by the same person or
  2. Someone who primarily 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; or
  3. Someone who has the authority to hire and fire and recommend those as well as other personnel actions if another employee or other employees are supervised; if no other employees are supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; or
  4. Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

Who is an “executive“ for the purpose of the L-1 Visa?

An executive is someone who

  1. Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function,
  2. Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  3. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  4. Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors or stockholders of the organization.

Who is a “person of specialized knowledge“?

A qualified person of specialized knowledge must have special or unique knowledge 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. “Special knowledge“ is knowledge that is different from or exceeds the ordinary or usual knowledge of an employee in a particular field.

Does the position to be filled in the U.S. company have to be identical with the one held by the foreign worker abroad?

There is no requirement that the position to be filled by the employee be identical to that previously held abroad, or that it have all of the same responsibilities, but the position in the United States must be at least of the equivalent classification as the original one.

Is there annual quota for L-1 visa?

No. The L-1 visa has no annual quota.

What visa do the spouse and children of a L-1 visa holder have?

The spouse and unmarried children under 21 of the L-1 visa-holder are admitted as L-2s and are able to study full-time in the U.S., but only the spouse of the L-1 visa-holder is permitted to obtain work authorization.

Can my family join me if I obtain L-1 visa?

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of L-1 workers may receive L-2 status. A recent change in the immigration law allows spouses to obtain work authorization in the United States, and dependents may study at U.S. schools and universities.

What are the primary advantages of obtaining an L-1 visa?

The L-1 category offers several advantages over other types of work visas. No annual limit exists on the number of visas issued, and L-1 visa holders may pursue permanent residency. Some L-1 managers and executives may petition for a green card without the need for labor certification. In addition, dependents of L-1 visa may obtain work authorization.

Does the U.S. employer need to provide prevailing wage,like H-1B visas?

No. U.S. employers are not required to show that the employee meets the prevailing wage of similarly employed U.S. workers. Income in the United States must only be sufficient to prevent the employee from requiring public assistance.

What does the legal fee cover?

We will provide everything necessary to file your L-1 petition, including:

  1. Contacting and discussing with your employer to facilitate their sponsorship for your petition.
  2. Drafting employment verification letter detailing the description of your company, your position, and your qualifications etc. for your employer to review and sign.
  3. Providing a list of supporting documentation you should prepare with the petition;
  4. Organizing all the required documentation for your L-1 petition according to the USCIS regulations.
  5. Drafting the petition letter and revising it to your satisfaction.
  6. Submitting the completed petition materials to the proper USCIS Center, and
  7. Contacting the USCIS for the status inquiry of your pending case.

What is the filing fee of L-1 visa?

The filing fee for all petition-based visas (L, O, H, P, Q, R) is $325. Additional fees apply for certain employers.