Many multinational companies have “globalized” their businesses
by opening and maintaining operations in the United States and in foreign
countries. These multinational companies transfer employees to and
from their US operations according to their business needs. Transferring
employees to facilities in the United States requires each employer
to apply for an L1 visa for each such employee.
Requirements for the L1 visa:
- Each employee must have worked for the same employer for at least
one year out of the three years previous to the submission of the
employee’s L1 application (Form I-129);
- The employee must be coming to the US to provide his services to
the same employer;
- The employee must be working as a manager, executive, or in a capacity
that requires specialized knowledge;
- The employer must provide information regarding the nature of its
business and its relationship with the US affiliate;
- The employer must provide details about the nature of the position,
the duties, and the qualification and capacity of the employee to provide
- The filing fee is $190, plus an additional USCIS Fraud Prevention
and Detection Fee of $500; and
- Typically, processing of a normal L1 takes two to four months. If
the L1 is covered by a blanket approval, defined below, the process
typically takes one to three weeks.
- Managers and Executives: Managers and executives are defined as
those employees who have managerial roles; plan, organize, or control
major functions of the company; or have supervisory responsibility
in a department over some key functions or over professional staff
to achieve the organization’s goals through other people.
- Staff with Specialized Knowledge: Employees with specialized knowledge
about the company’s products or services, proprietary interests
in the company’s business, research, and management procedures
specific to the company.
- The company can also apply for a “Blanket L1,” which
would enable the company to avoid filing individually for each employee.
The L1 employee can take the I-797 approval notice obtained by the
employer and apply directly at the nearby American consulate for the
L1 visa stamp.
Duration of stay:
- Managers and Executives: The L1A visa is for managers and executives
and is approved for a three year period with extensions in two year
increments for a total period not to exceed seven years.
- Staff with Specialized Knowledge: The L1B visa is for staff with
specialized knowledge and is approved for three years with an extension
of one 2 year increment for a total period not to exceed five years.
- Once the maximum period is reached in L1(A &B) status, the employee
must return to the country in which the foreign company is located
for at least one year before the employee may reapply for the L1.
Dependents of L1 Employees:
The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years) can obtain L-2
visas to enter the US with the principal L1 employee. L-2 visa holders
can obtain an employment authorization for a job and are also allowed
to carry on business of their own. Children with an L2 visa are permitted
to go to school.
Set up of New Office in the US:
Individuals can establish a new branch office in the US, provided that
the petitioner must submit evidence that physical premises for the
new office have been secured. Upon acceptance of such evidence,
the L-1 will be approved, but for only one year. Extensions may
thereafter be granted if the new office flourishes.
Obtaining a Green Card:
L1 employees can apply for permanent residency without having to go through
the time consuming process of labor certification, which helps them
get their green card faster than the other non-immigrant categories. Although
dependents of L1 can apply for the green card together with the principal
employee, the dependents must go through the labor certification process.
By taking advantage of these rules, a company in the US has the opportunity
to have expert knowledge on a rotational basis and to increase
the efficiency of the company’s business. To have these
rules work for your company, hire immigration experts and let them do
the rest of the work for you. If you have any questions, feel free to
contact us for further information.
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