Nonimmigrant visas that allow employers to transfer
some employees from foreign offices to a related U.S. office.
The L-1 visa is provided to employers who wish to transfer employees from a foreign branch, subsidiary, affiliate, parent or related corporate entity to work at a related U.S. entity. The person seeking the visa must have been employed with the organization outside of the U.S., for at least one continuous year in the preceding three years at the foreign entity.
This visa broken into two categories:
THE L-1A VISA
The L-1A visa is for foreign nationals who have been specifically employed in an ‘executive or managerial’ capacity. Executive capacity refers to the employee’s ability to make major decisions without much oversight on a day-to-day basis. Managerial capacity refers to the ability of the employee to supervise, and direct the duties of other employees, and to generally manage the organization, or department, subdivision, or other component of the organization. Recipients must have worked at a related entity abroad for at least twelve continuous months out of the last three years prior to the application.
The following are some examples that could be classified as either executive and managerial:
- Directing day-to-day management of the organization.
- Creating policies, goals, and procedures of the organization.
- Policy-making decisions.
- Receiving general direction(s) or supervision(s) from high-level executives, stockholders, and board of directors.
- Managing a department or organization, function, subdivision, or part of the company.
- Supervising and controlling work of those in professional, managerial, or supervisory roles.
- Having the ability to fire, hire, and recommend personnel.
- Exercising direction over day-to-day activities.
Petitioning employers and their foreign employees must meet certain requirements for the visa application to be processed successfully. The employee should have been working for the organization abroad for at least one continuous year, within the three years prior to coming to the U.S.; and an employee who is entering the U.S., must be doing so for a branch of the same organization or employer.
An employer must have a relationship with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate foreign company, and currently doing business, or will be doing business, as an employer in the US and in at least one other country for the period of the employees stay in the US as an L-1A visa holder.
THE L-1B VISA
The L-1B visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer an employee(s) with ‘specialized knowledge’ relating to the organization from one of its affiliated foreign offices to a U.S. parent company, subsidiary, affiliate or branch.
An employee must have been employed in the qualifying organization for at least twelve continuous months, within the last three years prior to the transfer in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity. Also, they are required to have specialized knowledge of their employment with the foreign employer, which will be utilized in the U.S.
Specialized knowledge means either special knowledge possessed by an individual 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.
L VISAS FOR THE PURPOSE OF OPENING A NEW OFFICE
If the employee is coming to the U.S., for the purpose of establishing a new office(s), they must meet the following requirements:
- The employer must show that they have secured sufficient physical premises to establish the new office.
- The employer must show that the employee was employed for one continuous year in a managerial or executive position within the three years before filing the petition.
- The employer must demonstrate that the U.S. office will support the manager or executive within one year of the petition’s approval.
- Normally, there need to be comprehensive business plans in place. These plans need to detail the foreign and domestic entities, include financial accounts/statements, documentary evidence of investments, and the ability to pay employees (comprehensive recruitment plans are also beneficial).
New office petitions tend to be more document intensive and are only given for one year, however, it may be extended for two additional years up to a maximum of seven years. There are many entrepreneurs who are executives or managers that are able to immigrate to the U.S. by establishing a new office.
THE L BLANKET CERTIFICATION
- An established office and have been doing business in the U.S., more than one year.
- Three or more domestic or foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates and be engaged in commercial trade and, or services.
- Annual sales of twenty-five million in the U.S., a work-force of at least one thousand, or have received approval of at least ten individual L petitions in the previous 12 months.
The L visa has an initial period of stay of three years, and recipients can apply for two extensions in two-year increments. This means individuals on an L visa can remain in the U.S. for a total of seven years. However, if the recipient has spent time out of the U.S., they can request that the full days spent outside of the U.S. during the period of petition validity be ‘recaptured’ and added back to their total maximum period of stay. It should be noted that transit travel times are not counted.
Your spouse and your unmarried children under the age of twenty-one, may accompany you to the United States. For employment questions for family members please contact us.
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