What is a Function Manager?
Both the L-1A and the EB-1C are designated for multinational executive or managerial employees. The L-1A is a nonimmigrant work visa that permits a company to transfer a qualifying foreign employee to the U.S. to work temporarily in a managerial or executive capacity, while the EB-1C is an immigrant visa that permits a foreign company to do the same but on a permanent basis. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), there are two types of managers that qualify in both categories: (1) personnel managers, and (2) function managers. The difference between the two is quite simple. Personnel managers primarily supervise and control the work of personnel, whereas function managers primarily manage an organizational function.
Qualifying as a “Function Manager”
To establish that the beneficiary (employee) will be employed in a managerial capacity as a “function manager,” a petitioner (employer) must demonstrate that: (1) the function is a clearly defined activity; (2) the function is “essential,” i.e., core to the organization; (3) the beneficiary will primarily manage, as opposed to perform, the function; (4) the beneficiary will act at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and (5) the beneficiary will exercise discretion over the function’s day-to-day operations.
USCIS has construed the term “essential function” to mean “a core activity of an organization.” This broad interpretation is meant to serve Congress’s purpose in creating the L-1A and EB-1C categories, which is to facilitate the transfer of key managers or executives within a multinational organization. In proving that a function is essential, a petitioner need only (1) describe the activity to be managed with specificity, and (2) prove that the function is core to the organization. In the Matter of G-Inc., for example, a multinational tech company filed an EB-1C application seeking to classify its Director of Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) as a “function manager.” The beneficiary’s duties consisted of financial analysis and planning for the organization. The Administrative Appeals Office determined that the FP&A’s duties were core to the organization, because the Petitioner’s executive team and board of directors depend on FP&A reports and strategies to drive the company’s financial health. In addition, financial analysis and planning impacts every business unit and geographic area within the entire organization.
Once a petitioner demonstrates the essential function, it must then prove that the beneficiary’s position is of “managerial capacity.” This means showing that: (1) the beneficiary will primarily manage, as opposed to perform, the function; (2) the beneficiary will act at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and (3) the beneficiary will exercise discretion over the function’s day-to-day operations. In evaluating these factors, the government takes into consideration numerous factors, including the nature and scope of the petitioner’s business; the organizational structure and staffing levels; the value of the budgets, products or services that a beneficiary will manage; and any other factors that will contribute to understanding the beneficiary’s actual duties and role in the business.
Suggested Evidence to Submit
When seeking to classify an employee as a function manager under either the L-1A or the EB-1C, it is important to include specific evidence. This includes letters from other company managers or executives detailing the “essential function” being claimed, the impact that function has on the company, and the importance that function is to the company’s financial well-being. It is also important to include organizational charts tracking the beneficiary’s managerial capacity.
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