L-1 Nonimmigrant Visa: Intracompany Transferees
Is it time to expand your foreign business in the U.S.? Do you work for a foreign corporation that is looking to transfer you to the U.S.? If so, you may qualify for L-1 nonimmigrant status.
The L-1 visa category is used to transfer foreign employees to U.S. affiliated companies. Berardi Immigration Law has successfully handled hundreds of these cases.
Basic Information about the L-1 Visa
The L-1 visa category applies to aliens who work for a company with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the U.S. These workers come to the U.S. as intracompany transferees who are coming temporarily to perform services either:
in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or
which entail specialized knowledge (L-1B).
Services must be for a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same employer that employed the professional abroad. The employee must have been employed abroad for the corporation, firm, or other legal entity (or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof) on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three-year period to qualify. There is currently no annual cap on the number of L-1 visas that may be issued.
Note: The employer is not required to obtain a labor certification prior to petitioning in this category. Compensation level is not prescribed, but U.S. income must be sufficient to prevent the alien from becoming a public charge.
Dependents (i.e. spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of L-1 workers are entitled to L-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S. while remaining in L-2 status, and spouses may seek to obtain employment authorization. Other family members of the principal, however, are not eligible to apply for work authorization.
L-1 workers may be admitted to the United States for an initial maximum stay period of up to three years. The total period of stay may reach seven years for L-1A managers and executives and five years for L-1B specialized knowledge personnel. If the worker does not spend an aggregate of 180 days per year in the U.S., they may qualify for additional time in the U.S.
Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer or foreign employer may an L-1 petition, but a foreign employer must have a legal business in the U.S. The petition must be filed with the following:
Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and the foreign employer which address ownership and control, such as an annual report, copies of articles of incorporation, financial statements, or stock certificates;
A letter from the alien’s foreign qualifying employer detailing his or her dates of employment, job duties, and qualifications and salary. The letter must also demonstrate that the alien worked for the employer abroad in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge for at least one continuous year within the three-year period immediately preceeding the filing of the petition; and
A detailed description of the proposed job duties and qualifications and evidence that the proposed employment is in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge.
If the alien is coming to the U.S. as a manager or executive (L-1A) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that:
Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;
The beneficiary has, or upon establishment will have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign employer and the qualifying position; and
The intended U.S. operation will be able to support the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition. This must be supported by information regarding:
- the proposed nature of the U.S. office (size and scope, organizational structure, and financial goals),
- financial information about the foreign entity (the size of the U.S. investment and the financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the U.S. ), and
- the organizational structure of the foreign entity.
If the alien is coming to the U.S. in a specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that:
Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;
The business entity in the U.S is or will be a qualifying organization; and
The petitioner has the financial ability to compensate the alien beneficiary and to begin doing business in the U.S.
Extending an Individual L-1 Petition
A petitioner may apply for an extension of an individual L-1 petition using Form I-129. Supporting documentation is not required, except in those cases involving new offices or when requested.
Extensions of stay up to seven years may be obtained for L-1A executives and managers; extensions up to five years may be obtained for L-1B specialized knowledge personnel.
Limits on Stay
An L-1A or L-1B worker that has been present in the United States for the full period of seven or five years, respectively, cannot reenter the United States in either H or L status until he or she has resided outside the United States for one year. However, as stated earlier, if the worker is not in the U.S. for an aggregate of 180 days per year, additional time may be available.
Change of Status to L-1 Category
Sometimes an alien that qualifies for L-1 status is already present in the United States under a different nonimmigrant category (i.e. B-1 business visitor). In this situation, the alien may apply for a change of nonimmigrant status to the L-1 category using Form I-129 and supporting documentation.
Blanket L Petition
Employers who regularly file L petitions may wish to consider filing for a blanket L petition in order to obtain continuing approval for itself (and some or all of its parents, branches, subsidiaries and affiliates in the U.S.). This simplifies the process of approving and admitting additional individual L-1A and L-1B workers.
The blanket L petition must be filed by a U.S. employer who will be the single representative between USCIS and the qualifying organizations and must be filed with copies of evidence that:
The Petitioner and its branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates are 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, or affiliates; and
The Petitioner and its qualifying organizations have obtained approved petitions for at least ten L-1 professionals during the previous year or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least 25 million dollars, or have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
After approval of a blanket petition, the petitioner may file for individual employees to enter as L-1 professionals under the blanket petition. If the alien is outside the U.S. , submit a completed Form I-129S and a copy of the Form I-797 (USCIS approval notice). If the alien is already in the U.S., the petitioner may file an I-129 to request a change of status, based on this blanket petition. An I-129 petition for a change of status must be filed with:
A copy of the approval notice for the blanket petition;
A letter from the alien’s foreign employer detailing the alien’s dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary for the 3 previous years; and
If the alien is a specialized knowledge professional, a copy of a U.S. degree, a foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. degree, or evidence establishing the combination of the beneficiary’s education and experience is the equivalent of a U.S. degree.
Extending a Blanket L Petition
A petitioner may file an I-129 to extend an expiring blanket petition. The extension petition must be filed with:
A copy of the previous approval notice for the blanket petition; and
A summary of the employment of L-1 aliens admitted under the blanket petition during the preceding three years, listing, for each alien:
- His or her name;
- Position(s) held during the period;
- Employing entity;
- Date of initial L-1 admission under the blanket;
- Date of final departure, if the alien has been transferred outside the United States; and
- Documentation of any changes in approved relationships.
Information courtesy of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Page Summary: US immigration firm assists company with transferring employees to the U.S. for work.