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L-1A Visa FAQ

Do you hold a managerial or executive position with a multinational company? Would you like to come to the U.S. to work for the company’s U.S. operations? The L-1A visa may be a good option for you!

What is the L-1A Visa Classification?

The L-1A nonimmigrant visa classification is for intracompany transfers. It allows certain individuals who have one year of qualifying employment abroad in an executive or managerial position to transfer to a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate business entity in the U.S. This visa classification is meant to facilitates the movement of key personnel to ensure the smooth running and development of their U.S. operations.

How do you qualify for L-1A status? 

To qualify for L-1A status, the applicant must:

  1. Have been employed by a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate business entity abroad for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding the application;
  2. The employment must have been in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position; and 
  3. The applicant must be seeking to enter the United States to provide services in a managerial or executive capacity. 

What is a “manager” for L-1A purposes? 

According to the regulations, the term “managerial capacity” means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily: 

  1. Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization; 
  2. Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization; 
  3. If another employee or other employees are directly supervised, has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) or, if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and 
  4. Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

What is an “executive” for L-1A purposes?

An executive is defined as someone who directs the management of the organization or one of its core functions, establishes goals and policies, exercises discretionary decision making, and receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, board of directors or stockholders.

How long can you stay in the U.S. in L-1A status? 

For general applications, applicants can be admitted to the U.S. for up to a three-year period. For “new office” applications, where the applicant is coming to the U.S. to help open a new U.S. office, the applicant may be admitted to the U.S. for a one-year period. An individual’s L-1A status may be renewed for up to seven years, with certain exceptions for intermittent border crossers.

It is best practice for individuals to check their I-94 admission record upon each entry to the U.S. to confirm how long they have been admitted in L-1A status. You can do this by clicking on this link: I94 – Official Website ( Simply click on “Get most recent I-94” and type in your passport information. 

Can the spouse of an L-1A holder work in the U.S.?

Yes! Unlike other categories, like the H-1B or TN, the L-1A visa classification allows both the principal applicant and their spouse to work while in the U.S. Notably, in November 2021, USCIS announced spouses of individuals with valid L-1A status have employment authorization incident to their “L-2S” status. Meaning, the spouse of an L-1A holder may present a valid I-94 record with the COA code “L-2S” to their U.S. employer as evidence of employment authorization under List C of Form I-9. This is a great benefit, especially in this crazy economy where a single income household is not always ideal. 

How do you apply for L-1A status? 

For Canadian citizens, an L-1A petition may be filed with U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port-of-entry. The benefits of applying directly at the border or through customs at an international airport include having an in-person interview and the opportunity to be approved for L-1A status that same day. Upon approval, a Canadian citizen may enter the U.S. and begin working immediately. 

For all other nationalities, the L-1A petition is filed through the mail with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) which can take several months for regular processing. For an additional fee, the applicant may file the application with the Premium Processing Service, which guarantees that action is taken on the case within fifteen (15) calendar days from receipt. Once the case is approved by USCIS, the individual will then need to schedule an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to obtain the L-1A visa in their passport. 

If you are interested in learning more about the L-1A visa classification, feel free to reach out to our office to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys: 716-634-1010.