What Is the L-1 Visa?
There are two kinds of L visas:
- L-1A Visa-for employees in an executive or managerial position, and
- L-1B Visa-for employees in a specialized knowledge capacity
The L-1 Visa is a non-immigrant work visa for employees in a specialized knowledge capacity or an executive or managerial position who are being transferred from a foreign company to a U.S. subsidiary, branch, affiliate or parent of the original foreign company. There are no limits to the number of L-1 visas that the U.S. Immigration Service can issue per year and the petitioning company does not have to obtain a prevailing wage approval or file any documents with the Department of Labor. L-1 visa aliens may possess dual intent, allowing them to apply for a permanent residency concurrently with the L Visa application. L-1A aliens do not need to go through the labor certification process when applying for permanent residency, however, L-1B aliens do.
There is a premium processing option for L visa petitions filed in the US, which for an additional filing fee, the U.S. Immigration Service will commit to process the application within 15 business days from receipt of the application. This does not mean that there will necessarily be a final decision in 15 days, but that there will be a response by this time. This response may be a visa approval, a denial or it may also include a request for additional documentation. By working with an L1 Visa attorney, you can help streamline the sometimes complex L-1 and L-2 visa processes.
Who Is Eligible for L-1A and L-1B Visas in the US?
Employees who are being transferred from a foreign subsidiary, branch, affiliate or parent of a U.S. company:
- who are in a specialized knowledge capacity or an executive or managerial position and
- have been employed for at least one continuous year during the past three years, with the foreign subsidiary, branch, affiliate or parent of the U.S. company applying for them.
What is the duration of L-1A and L-1B Visas?
L-1 visas may be granted for an initial period of up to 3 years and may be renewed for a maximum of 7 years for an L-1A and a maximum of 5 years for an L-1B. Any time spent under an H-1 visa status will count towards this maximum.
However, for L-1A’s, if after the 7 year period, the employee resides at least one complete year abroad, the clock starts counting again and the alien may be granted another 7 years in L-1A status. There is no time limit for aliens who reside intermittently in the U.S., or an aggregate of six months or less per year.
This visa may be extended from the initial 3 year period in terms of 2 year periods up to the 7 year maximum for L-1A, or 5 year maximum for L-1B.
Spouses and unmarried children under 21 are allowed as dependents under an L-2 Visa. L-1 Visa dependents are allowed to legally live and study in the U.S. without any additional permits, and the spouse of the L Visa holder may obtain work authorization.
What Documentation Do I Need for L Visa?
Petitioner Company’s Information:
- Articles of organization for foreign and U.S. company affiliates
- Company brochures with description and addresses
- Number of employees of parent company and affiliate
- Financial Statements of both U.S. and foreign affiliates
- Documentation showing evidence of connection between the affiliates
- Letter of Support from Employer
- Alien’s title and detailed job description with any special skills relevant to the position
- Salary and benefits offered
- Name and title of person who will be signing petition
Alien employee information:
- Copy of Beneficiary’s Passport
- Copy of Alien’s U.S. visa and I-94 (if alien already in the U.S.)
- Alien’s resume or work history
- Alien’s Diplomas and transcripts
- Alien’s pay stubs or tax forms showing at least one year within the past three years of prior engagement with foreign affiliate
What is the Process for an L-1A and L-1B Visa Like?
Obtain documentation as evidence in support of petition.
For small companies, we can also help organize a company affiliate in the United States if necessary, including the following steps:
- Application with the Secretary of State.
- Application with IRS for Tax ID No.
Prepare and file Petition with the U.S. Immigration Service along with the U.S. Immigration Service filing fees for form I-129
Obtain Petition Approval from the U.S. Immigration Service – Processing time for the U.S. Immigration Service is approximately 30-90 days or receipt of notice requesting additional documentation or evidence to support application. In the latter case, we will work with the client to provide the additional information to the U.S. Immigration Service and we will prepare a response with the appropriate analysis and legal argument. This last scenario would increase the amount of time required to complete the process and may also increase the legal fees due, depending on the amount of additional work required. The process of applying for an L-1 visa or an L-2 visa can be complex, and requires the skills and guidance of an experienced U.S. visa lawyer.
(Note: Congress has directed the U.S. Immigration Service to establish a process for reviewing and acting upon petitions on behalf of L non-immigrants within 30 days after the date a completed petition has been filed, however the U.S. Immigration Service is seldom able to comply with this requirement.)