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L-1: Intracompany Transfer Visas

L-1: Intracompany Transfer Visas

The L-1 intra company transfer visa allows foreign companies to send executives, managers, or specialized employees to the U.S. to work at an affiliated branch or establish a U.S. branch if one does not already exist. Although the L-1 is a temporary visa that does not offer lawful permanent residence (LPR), it is eligible for dual intent. Dual intent permits an individual applying for an L-1 to also apply simultaneously for an employment-based green card.

The L-1 intra company transfer visa is important for a bridge for dual intent because most visas do not inherently allow for a green card application. In fact, many visa holders need to prove they are not pursuing immigrant status so as to not jeopardize their future stays in the United States.

 Definition of L-1 Intracompany Visa

The visa holder’s employer and/or overseas company must be related to the United States. An intra company transfer to the U.S. required the employer to be: 

  • Parent Company: The company is primarily outside of the U.S. and owns more than half of the U.S. employer
  • Branch: The employee must work for an operating location but in the same company
  • Subsidiary: Subsidiaries of a company is also intracompany, meaning the place of work is still in the same overseas company but the U.S. owns over half (or a majority) of the company. A visa for subsidiaries is still given to nonimmigrant workers even though the U.S. owns a majority.
  • Affiliation: The United States and Overseas company is owned by a third party, which can be a company, group of people, individual, or even group of other companies
  • Joint Venture Partners: Two unrelated companies join together to form a new business or project
  • International Accounting Firms: Accounting firms oftentimes differ from typical L-1 rules, but employers can support their employees, nonetheless.

Definition of Positions for Intracompany Visa

There are three possible positions that an employee can fill in order to obtain an L-1A or L-1B intra company transfer visa: manager, executive, or person of specialized knowledge. Regardless of the position, the employee must have worked at the company for at least one consecutive year within the past three years before coming to the United States. The definitions of the positions are as follows:

Manager Intracompany Definition

  • For the visa, subsidiaries, departments, components, and/or functions are managed for the organization
  • Manager supervises and/or controls the work of other employees in management positions within different subsections of the company
  • Has the authority to hire and fire
  • Overviews and authorizes day-to-day activities and functions

Executive Intracompany Definition

  • Directs the management and functions of a company
  • Creates policies and goals for the company’s functioning and productivity
  • Executive decision making on a wide level
  • Receives minimal and general supervision from stockholders, board members, or higher-level executives

Person with Specialized Knowledge Intracompany Definition

  • Needs to have specialized knowledge not just within the field of work but within the company itself
  • Must have a deep understanding of all products, services, management, technology, equipment, research, market(s), and supply chain
  • Needs to have an advanced level of expertise

L-1A Visa

The first subcategory of the L-1 visa is the L-1A intracompany transferee executive or manager visa. The L-1A classification allows a U.S. employer to transfer a manager or executive from one of its affiliated offices out of the country to one of its U.S. offices. This visa also allows a foreign company to send an executive or manager to establish an affiliated office in the U.S. if the company does not already have one.

The maximum initial stay is one year for those who are sent to establish a new office, while all other employees are allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. Extensions of stay are offered in the increments of two years until the employee reaches the final maximum of seven years.

L-1A Intra Company Transfer Visa Eligibility

To qualify for an L-1A visa, the USCIS requires an employee to meet the following criteria:

  • He/she has been working for a qualifying employer for a continuous year within the three years preceding his/her admission
  • He/she has intentions to provide an executive or managerial service for a branch of the same employer when entering the U.S.

In order to be an L1 visa qualifying organization, the employer/company is also responsible for meeting certain requirements:

  • The employer must have a relationship with a foreign company that meets qualifications in accordance with the USCIS (branch, subsidiary, parent company, or affiliate)
  • For the duration of the beneficiary’s stay, the employer must be doing business in the U.S. and at least one other country. This does not require any international trade

Family of L-1A Workers

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible to accompany their spouse/parent who has an L-1A visa. Interested family members who fall under these terms may seek admission by the L-2 nonimmigrant classification. Typically, the family will be allowed to stay in the United States for the same period granted to the applicant. 

L-1B Intra-Company Transfer Visa

The L-1B visa is essentially the same as the L-1A, except instead of allowing managers and executives to enter the country, it enables employers to transfer professional employees with specialized knowledge.

The L-1B intracompany transferee specialized knowledge visa allows those who qualify as possessing some special knowledge on the organization’s service, product, techniques, etc., to be sent to an affiliated L1 visa qualifying organization. If the organization does not already have a U.S. branch, the professional employee may be sent with the intention of starting one.

The period of stay for individuals with an L-1B classification is identical to those with the L-1A classification except for the maximum initial stay limit. L-1B applicants are allowed to stay for five years instead of seven. 

Eligibility

To qualify for an L-1B, the USCIS requires an employee to meet the following criteria:

  • He/she has been working in a qualifying organization for one year within the three years before entering the U.S.
  • He/she must be entering the U.S. with plans to provide a branch of the same employer with specialized knowledge services

The employer is also responsible for meeting certain requirements:

  • The employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company, qualifying relationships include parent-subsidiary, branch-headquarters, sister companies, or affiliates
  • For the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1 holder, the employer must be doing business both in the U.S. and another country through the same organization or a qualifying company

L-1 Visa Application Process

If an employee is eligible for an intra company transfer visa to the U.S. from their overseas affiliate company, the employer must then fill out Form I-129, petition for a nonimmigrant worker. This form is what allows the foreign worker to enter the U.S. to work or establish a new company branch. The I-129 petition to the USCIS must be approved before an employee can legally begin his/her job.

The I-129 petition must be filled out and sent to the California Service Center or the Texas Service Center of the USCIS, whose specific addresses can be found on their website. The filing fee for each individual petition is $460 and non-refundable regardless of decision. When filing for a large number of employees at once, this cost can be reduced through the use of a blanket petition (see below). Information that must be provided when applying for an I-129 include:

  • Evidence of the relationship between foreign and U.S. employer
  • Evidence that the beneficiary is a manager, executive, or possesses specialized knowledge
  • The location of the new office to be established (if applicable)
  • The beneficiary’s role in the new branch (if applicable)
  • Evidence that the beneficiary’s abroad employment is necessary for the company’s growth or survival

This process takes roughly one to five months unless an employer opts for the “premium processing” program, which expedites the review process to fifteen days. There are no limits on how many L-1 visas can be granted each year.

L-1 Blanket Petitions

Blanket petitions are for companies who would like to have a significant number of employees transfer between the U.S. and Canada. Under this petition, the company can move as many employees as they wish between countries. In order to qualify for a L1 Blanket Petition, the company must meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least three physical offices – U.S. or abroad
  • Have a U.S. office that has been in business for at least one year
  • Have a minimum of 1,000 employees based in the United States
  • Ability to show company-wide annual sales of at least $25 million

Contact an Experienced L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa Lawyer Attorney Today

Filing for any visa can be a long, difficult process. For applicants, supplying all the correct information up front and understanding precisely what you want to achieve with your petition can make all the difference. Recruiting the assistance of an L-1 visa attorney can make the process easier and offer a higher chance of success. An experienced L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa Lawyer can help gather the necessary evidence and present it in a way that maximizes the rewards.

Our attorneys have over seven decades of combined experience in U.S. immigration law. We’ve helped guide numerous clients through the complicated process of gaining intracompany transferee worker visas in the U.S.

Contact the legal team at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. today. Contact a member of our team today at 312.444.1940.

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