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L-1: Intracompany Transferees

L-1: Intracompany Transferees

The L-1 visa is a visa allowing foreign companies to send 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 means that an individual applying for an L-1 is also expected to apply simultaneously for an employment-based green card.

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.


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.

The employer 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.


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 U.S. company. 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.


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 L-1 visa, 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 Immigration 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. Experienced lawyers 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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