L1A Visa for Managers and Executives:
The United States L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing an office in the United States or with the purpose of managing an existing office in the United States.
L1 Visa allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to the USA operations for up to seven years.
To qualify for L1 Visa, the employer must:
- The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company outside of the U.S. for at least one year out of the last three years.
- The employee must seek to come to the U.S. to work either in an Executive or Managerial capacity in the same organization in the U.S.
*Executive capacity is generally described by the U.S. government as employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.
*Managerial capacity is generally described by the U.S. government as the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.
3. The company in the United States and abroad must be “Doing business” which means regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods or services. Mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad does not qualify the organization. Actual accounts of doing business and having revenue should be proved. The business must be viable, the business is not limited to international trade.
Opening a New Office in the United States:
It is common that foreign companies send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office. To obtain an L visa for purposes of establishing a new office the organization must show that:
1. The employer has secured sufficient physical premises for the new office;
2. The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
3. The Intended U.S. office will support (financially and otherwise) the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
L1B Visa for Specialized Knowledge Employees:
This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products, services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Employees in this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for three years extendible to a maximum of five years.
Period of Stay for L visa holders:
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year.
All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years.
For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.
Family of L-1 Employees:
The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.
If these family members are already in the United States and need to change their status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply to change their status to L1 and L2 visas.
Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization. There is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.