The L-1 Intracompany Transfer visa is available to those who are working for a business, company or organization anywhere in the world that currently has an office in the USA, or would like to open an office in the USA, and wants to transfer a member of staff to the existing or pending US branch.
The relationship between the overseas and US offices may be that of branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner. Typically, one common person or business entity must own at least 51% of both the overseas and U.S. companies, although other qualifying ownership scenarios are possible.
Ideally, the U.S. company is a wholly- owned subsidiary of the foreign company. However, sole proprietorship, majority stock ownership in both companies and ownership by a common group, where each individual owns approximately the same shares or proportion of each entity, may be acceptable. The two entities do not have to be in the same type of business.
The employee who is applying for the L-1 visa must have been working for the sponsoring company for at least one full year during the three years immediately prior to the application for an L-1 visa unless the employee was in the U.S. in another visa status.
There are two types of L-1 visa:
L-1A visa for Managers and Executives
The L-1A visa is initially approved for three years but can be extended for up to seven years.
L-1B visa for persons with Specialized Knowledge
“Specialized Knowledge” refers to proprietary knowledge of the company’s business, products, and marketing strategy. The L-1B visa is initially approved for three years and can be extended for up to five years.
New U.S. entities
L-1 visas for new enterprises in the US are initially granted for only one year, and can then be extended. Initial evidence in order to qualify for the L-1 visa consists of a U.S. corporation and an office lease, as well as a detailed business plan indicating growth and expansion.
The L is a “dual intent” visa. Holders of L-1A visas may apply for Permanent Residence as Multinational Executives or Managers in the First Preference Category without going through the Labor Certification process. Holders of L-1B visas must normally apply for Labor Certification before qualifying for Permanent Residence.
The spouse of an L-1 visa holder may obtain work authorization.
The Immigration Service has been extremely stringent regarding the L-1B Specialized Knowledge classification during recent years. We are happy to advise that we have recently obtained two L-1B approvals in record time without using the Premium Processing service and without receiving a Request for Evidence.
- Facade Architect/Computation Specialist working in the Hong Kong branch of a small U.S. architectural firm. Since the individual had only been working for the overseas branch for just over a year, this was a challenging case. We were able to show that the applicant had specialized knowledge of the company’s products and processes, and was actually instrumental in creating some of them. He was needed to train other staff in the U.S. in these processes and to complete design work on several projects. The case was approved within nine weeks. (August 2014)
- Customer Services Global Support Technician working in the UK office of a manufacturing company with offices in the United States and elsewhere. Although the individual had been working for the company for four years, he had misplaced his technician certificates, normally required for technical positions. The case was approved in under six weeks. (September 2014)