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L-1 Qualifying Employment

The L-1 (“intracompany transferee”) classification is utilized by employers to transfer executives, managers, and specialized knowledge employees to the United States from an affiliated office abroad. To qualify, there are requirements that must be satisfied by both the petitioning employer and foreign employee.

Employee Requirements

To qualify for L-1 status, an employee must:

  1. Have been working in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year;
  2. Be seeking to enter the U.S. to provide services in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position; and
  3. Possess education, training, and/or experience that qualifies him or her for the intended position in the United States.

One Year of Qualifying Employment

Here are a couple of important considerations related to an employee’s one year of qualifying employment abroad:

  1. The one-year of qualifying employment must be obtained within three years immediately preceding the filing of an L-1 petition. The only exception is when an employee is already working in the U.S. for the qualifying organization in a valid immigration status. Under these circumstances, the relevant period is the three years immediately preceding the U.S. employment—not the date the L-1 petition is filed.
  2. Time spent in the U.S. for business or pleasure counts against an employee’s one-year period of qualifying employment abroad. Here is an example to help illustrate this point. A Canadian employee is hired on January 1, 2020. The employee then spends a total of 30 days in the U.S. as a business visitor over the next year. This employee will not be eligible for L-1 status until February 2021, at the earliest. This is because the 30 days he or she spent in the U.S. is subtracted from their total time with the foreign employer.

Employee Qualifications

As previously mentioned, an L-1 application must demonstrate that the employee’s prior education, training, and experience qualify him or her for the intended position in the United States. Typical evidence submitted to satisfy this requirement includes:

  • Current resume
  • Degree certificate(s) & transcripts
  • Industry certifications
  • Professional licenses
  • Employment confirmation letters
  • Proof of success with affiliated employer abroad

How to Apply for L-1 Status

Canadian citizens may file an L-1 petition with U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) directly at a U.S. port-of-entry. If approved, the L-1 beneficiary may begin working in the U.S. immediately. 

All other nationalities must submit a petition through the mail to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, the foreign national must then apply for an L-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before entering the U.S. in L-1 status.

If you have any questions regarding an L-1 petition, feel free to contact me via LinkedIn or by email at [email protected]