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L-1 Visa

The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa  that is issued to foreign-born individuals who have executive management and technical or specialized knowledge that is highly valued by the U.S. employer. These individuals are commonly transferred to U.S. companies as managers, executives, or as employees with special knowledge.

Types of L-1 Visa

1. L1A visa to transfer an executive or high level manager

2. The L1B visa allows an alien with specialized knowledge worker whose skills and knowledge cannot be easily replaced to work in the United States.

Who can petition for the L1 Visa? 
The L1 visa must be petitioned by a US company. When an executive or manager opens up a new US branch of a foreign company who is affiliated to them, the executive can petition using the company as the petitioner. If a key employee of a company got transferred to the US branch of a foreign parent company, the US parent company will serve as the petitioner of the L1B employee.

Who is eligible for L1 Visa?

To qualify for L1 classification in this category, an L1 visa petition must show that the petitioner has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (same parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and that the company is either currently doing business in the United States or will be doing business in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States under an L1 visa.


L-1 Visa Requirements

  • The U.S. company and the foreign company must have a qualifying relationship, such as greater than 50% ownership interest and/or actual control by one entity of the other.

  • The L-1 visa is for executives who are transferring to the United States from their overseas offices. Applicants must have worked full time for at least 365 days during the past three years for an overseas office.

  • The L-1 visa applicant must have been in a managerial or executive position, or a specialized knowledge capacity position in both the overseas and U.S. entities at the time of filing an petition for them.

  • The U.S. office should be in operation for a minimum of one year prior to application. This will minimize chances of denial in the process of the application. It’s possible to get a new office with under 1 year operation approved but it is not guaranteed. 

  • One must also have leased a premise / office for the U.S. company.

 

L1A Manager Visa Requirements 

 

  • 1 Year Rule: The L-1A alien worker is required to have worked full time for the foreign company for at least one year during the past three years before the L1 visa petition.

  • Managerial and Executive Role Oversea: The employee must have worked in a senior manager position overseas and must work in a senior manager position upon staying in the US.

  • Managerial and Executive Role in USA: The L-1A foreign worker must be come to the US in a senior managerial position including the managers who will have other lower ranking individual reporting to them; 

  • New Office: If the new office will be managed by L-1A employee is coming to the U.S. to manage, it is the duty of the employer to show proper investment and business plan to the L-1A executive.

  • Managing Others: Management of people in the US employer must by the duty of the L1A employee.

  • Organization Charts: The employer needs to prove that there are enough number of employees to implement the clerical work under the L-1A manage; this can be supported by an organizational chart.

L1B Specialized Knowledge Employee Visa Requirements

 

  • 1 Year Rule: The L1B worker must have worked full time for the foreign company for at least one year during the past three years before the L1 visa petition. The USCIS may want to see the payroll tax-records as a proof.

  • Not Feasible to Hire a U.S. Worker: The employer must show and attest that there is no immediate available U.S. worker with the specialized skills and knowledge by the L-1B personnel, and that the company is in need of the presence L1B worker They must also show that it is not feasible to acquire it by training a US Citizen employee. 

  • Hard to Train US Worker: If the employer can show and provide evidence that it will cause them undue hardship to operate their business, the person may then be considered as “special.”

  • Wage Requirements: The employer must not pay the L-1B worker significantly below the prevailing wage.

How long does L-1 Visa last?


L-1A Visa

  1. An L1A visa holder can stay for a maximum of seven years;

  2. Initially up to three years will be granted;

  3. For extension of stay, the usual granted stay is up to two years;


L-1B Visa

  1. Maximum of five years stay;

  2. Initially up to three years will be granted;

  3. For extension of stay, the usual granted stay is up to two years;


New Office
The L-1 visa employee will only be allowed an initial stay of 1 year, if the petitioning company is less than 1 year old by the time the petition is submitted,


Prior H1B Time
If the L1 visa employee had previously had a H1B visa status, the time used during the H1B visa status will also be counted towards the L1 visa clock.

Can I Self-petition an L-1 Visa?
An employer is needed to sponsor an L1 Visa. An individual without a sponsor company cannot self-petition for the L-1 visa. Unless you want to establish a U.S. branch, you may use the foreign company to apply for yourself as the executive.

Can my Spouse and Children Apply with me? 
Yes, spouse and children of the L-1 beneficiary can apply for dependent visas to accompany the principal during the period of his stay in the United States.

L1 Visa Document Checklist

 

Documents about the foreign company:

  1. Incorporation Documents/Partnership or Joint Venture Agreement: Articles/Memoranda of Incorporation;
    - Bylaws, Stock certificates, ledger, registration;

  2. Business permits/licenses/registration;

  3. Company's annual report, marketing paraphernalia (e.g. brochure) and resume;

  4. Lease/deed; mortgage or rent receipts;

  5. Organizational chart; 

  6. Business plan

  7. Published Articles, and promotional materials about the company's products, services and its key people;

  8. Company's updated financial statement or federal tax return;

  9. Copies of awards, and special achievements of the company or key personnel;

  10. External and Internal Photographs of the facilities;

Documents about the US Company:

  1. Documents of Partnership, and Joint Venture Agreement;

  2. Qualification of the branch to do business in United States;

  3. Business permits/licenses/registration;

  4. Company's annual report, marketing paraphernalia (e.g. brochure) and resume;

  5. Company's updated financial statement or federal tax return;

  6. Lease/deed; mortgage or rent receipts;

  7. Organizational chart; 

  8. Business plan

  9. Published Articles, and promotional materials about the company's products, services and its key people;

  10. Copies of awards, and special achievements of the company or key personnel;

  11. External and Internal Photographs of the facilities;

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