Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transferees
L-1 work visas are designed for people transferring from a company abroad to work in the United States for a related company. This category requires that the employee holds an executive or managerial position, or has specialized knowledge about company products or processes. L visas are a popular option for multinational firms.
To qualify for an L-1 visa, you must have been employed in a foreign country for at least one year of the last three for a company related to the employer in the United States. Any time spent working in the United States will not count toward the one year of required employment.
In addition, the foreign firm and the U.S. firm must have a “qualifying relationship.” The foreign company may be a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the prospective U.S. employer. The U.S. and the foreign firm must have common majority ownership or common control by the same persons or entities. The employer may include corporations, non-profits, religious or charitable organizations.
Furthermore, you must be coming to work as an executive, manager, or employee with “specialized knowledge.” An “executive” directs the management of the company or a major part or function of the organization, such as a vice-president or controller. A “manager” directs the organization or a department, or supervises a core function of the organization. Specialized knowledge refers to employees with particular knowledge of the company's products and their applications in world markets, or proprietary knowledge of the company's processes or procedures.
Finally, you must intend to depart the United States when your stay
is over. However, you may pursue permanent residency while holding an
L-1 visa without negatively affecting your status. In other words,
the doctrine of dual
intent applies to L-1 visas, just as for H-1B visas.
L-1 visas are granted for up to three year periods and are renewable. Executives and managers are granted L-1A status, and may remain in the United States for up to seven years. Employees with specialized knowledge are given L-1B visas, and may stay in the U.S. for up to five years.
The L-1 category does offer several advantages over other types of work visas. No annual limit exists on the number of visas issued, and L-1 visa holders may pursue permanent residency. Some L-1 managers and executives may petition for a green card without the need for labor certification.
Spouses and unmarried children of L-1 workers may receive L-2 status. A recent change in the immigration law allows spouses and children to obtain work authorization in the United States, and dependents may study at U.S. schools and universities.
Processing times for L-1 petitions depend on the Service Center's case load, which can vary greatly over time. Current processing times are estimated by all of the Service Centers, but those are just estimates. Because it can take some time for your case to be adjudicated, you want to make sure that your case is carefully prepared before filing.
If you would like assistance in preparing your L-1 visa
petition, please contact Peng & Weber.