Who is Eligible for L-1 Visa?
- L-1A and L-1B visas are available for temporary intracompany transferees who work in managerial positions or have specialized knowledge
- It is a nonimmigrant visa, but you can eventually apply for a green card as it is also a dual intent visa
- The L1 visa does not have specific education or degree requirements, and the applicant’s specialized knowledge does not need to be in a particular field
- There is no limit or cap on the number of L1 visas granted to applicants each year
- L1 visa holders can also easily apply for employment-based green cards for managers and executives (EB-1C)
Factors for Establishing New Offices:
Foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office must show:
- They have a physical location for the new office
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years before filing the petition; and
- The new office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition
What are The Subcategories of L-1 Visa?
The L-1 visa has two subcategories:
- L-1Afor executives and managers, valid up to 7 years.
- L-1Bfor workers with specialized knowledge, valid up to 5 years
Can I Qualify for Multiple L-1 Status?
After the expiration of the 7 or 5 years respectively, as a foreign national you can only qualify for L-1 status again by working abroad for at least 1 year for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office of the U.S. company.
- The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States
- This classification also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one
- Your employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with a fee, on your behalf
General Qualification for L1A Classification:
- You have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately before your admission to the United States
- Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Note: While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
Employer and Employee Related Terms Explained:
Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad
Executive capacity generally refers to your ability to make a wide range of decisions without much oversight
Managerial capacity generally refers to your ability to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to your ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without the direct supervision of others. (See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for complete definitions.)
Your employer must also meet general qualifications.
How Long Can L-1A Employee Stay?
- Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year
- All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years
- For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years
What is a Blanket Petition?
Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket petition. Eligibility for blanket L certification may be established if:
- The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations is engaged in commercial trade or services
- The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more
- The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates
- The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations meet one of the following criteria:
- Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period
- Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
- Have at least 1,000 employees in the U.S.
Note: The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted L-1A classification. It does, however, provide the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS.
What is the Next Step for a Prospective Employee After Blanket Petition Approval?
once the blanket petition has been approved, the employer needs to complete Form, I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, and send it to the employee along with a copy of the blanket petition Approval Notice and other required evidence, so that the employee may present it to a consular officer in connection with an application for an L-1 visa.
What about L-1 Visa Exempt Foreign Citizens?
- Canadian citizens, who are exempt from the L-1 visa requirement, may present the completed Form I-129S and supporting documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at certain ports-of-entry on the United States-Canada land border or at the United States pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station in Canada, in connection with an application for admission to the United States in L-1 status
- If the prospective L-1 employee is visa-exempt, the employer may also file the Form I-129S and supporting documentation with the USCIS service center that approved the blanket petition, instead of submitting the form and supporting documentation directly with CBP
Can a Company File Multiple L-1 for Intracompany Transferee Petitions Related to the Same Project?
USCIS recognizes that businesses may need to temporarily move multiple employees to the United States for projects which require the employees’ specialized knowledge
Employers may petition for their employees to obtain an L-1 nonimmigrant classification by filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
While each L-1 petition must be considered on its own merits, USCIS will consider multiple applications grouped into “bundles” of L-1 petitions to streamline and improve the adjudication process
For USCIS to consider the bundle, all included L-1B petitions must meet the following criteria:
- Employees should be on the same project
- They will work at the same location and
- They should also have substantially the same specialized knowledge and perform similar duties
USCIS will also consider petitions for L-1A managers included with the bundle if they will be managing the L-1B beneficiaries who will be working on the project
Useful Tips for Bundling L-1 Petitions:
- Complete a separate Form I-129 for each employee.
- Include petitions in the bundle:
- From the same petitioner
- On behalf of beneficiaries employed at the same foreign entity who will be seeking initial L-1 status or an extension of L-1 status, and who will be working on the same project at the same location performing substantially the same specialized knowledge duties
- Filed under the same service (that is, either requesting all premium processing or non-premium processing);
- Of L-1A managers if they will be managing the L-1B beneficiaries who will be working on the project
- Package each petition separately with its own fees and supporting evidence
- Indicate the multiple related filings by, for example, including a cover sheet with information the petitioner believes may be useful to assist USCIS in processing the related filings as a bundle
- If using a cover sheet, write, “L-1 Bundle” in large, bold print at the top of the cover sheet. Petitioners should list their name and the project’s name and location, and number each cover sheet included in the bundle (e.g., 1 of 10 petitions, 2 of 10 petitions, etc.)
- If USCIS is unable to determine whether a petition contained in the bundle is related to the same petitioner, project, location, or substantially the same specialized knowledge duties, USCIS will process the petition as if it were received individually
Please be advised this list is for your information purpose only. Please let us know if you have any questions about documents, consider booking an appointment longer than 30 minutes if you are dealing with any complex legal situation(s), and need legal advice