L-1 Visa Law & Requirements

L-1 nonimmigrant visa classification is designed for intracompany transfers. It has two subcategories, L-1A and L-1B, which are suitable for different types of employees.

Both categories share the same basic requirements:

  1. The foreign national must have been employed abroad by a qualifying organization in either a “managerial/executive” or “specialized knowledge” role for at least one full year during the three years immediately preceding the transfer.
  2. The foreign national’s prospective U.S. position is also “executive/managerial” or requires “specialized knowledge.”

The U.S. and foreign company must possess a qualifying relationship, such as parent and subsidiary, affiliates, or branches. This classification is also available for a foreign company that wishes to open or send an employee to work at a new office in the U.S. The U.S. employer must be “doing business” in the U.S., which refers to the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services.

What are the Benefits of the L-1 Visa?

There are a number of benefits to L-1 status:

  • There is no yearly numerical limitation to the number of individuals who can receive L-1 visas or status, meaning that a company can petition for as many employees as necessary at any time of the year.
  • No labor certification is required to submit an L-1 petition or application.
  • Premium processing is available for petitions filed with the USCIS, ensuring a response from the USCIS within 15 calendar days.
  • The L-1 employee’s immediate family members can receive dependent visas:
    • Spouses are eligible for L-2S visas that are automatically employment authorized in the U.S. and unmarried children under 21 are eligible for L-2 visas that allow them to live and study in the U.S.
  • L-1 visas are “dual intent,” which means that a worker can come to the U.S. with immigrant intent in the hope of applying for a green card in the future.
    • Specifically, individuals in L-1A status have a direct path to the first preference multinational manager or executive (EB-1C) immigrant visa category.
  • There are no education requirements with one exception: Employees applying for an L-1B visa under a company’s approved Blanket L petition must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience. Since the qualifying employment only needs to be one year within the past three, the employer can choose to hire former employees.

Blanket L-1 Approval

Companies seeking a faster and less expensive method of transferring eligible employees to the U.S. may choose to submit a Blanket L petition to the USCIS. Once approved, a company’s Blanket L is valid for an initial period of three years and may be extended indefinitely. An approved Blanket L petition allows the company’s employees to apply for an L-1 visa directly at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad without the company needing to file an individual petition with the USCIS first.

To qualify for Blanket L approval, an organization must meet the following criteria:

  • The U.S. petitioning company and each of the relevant qualifying organizations are involved in commercial trade or services;
  • The U.S. petitioning company has a U.S. office that has been doing business for one year or more;
  • The U.S. petitioning company has at least three domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and/or affiliates; and
  • The U.S. petitioning company and relevant qualifying organizations fulfill at least one of the following:
    • Have obtained ten or more L-1 approvals during the previous twelve months;
    • Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; OR
    • Have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.

New Office L-1 Visa Restrictions

Foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the U.S. as an executive or manager to establish a new office must show that they have a physical location for the new office and that the new office will support an executive or managerial position within one year.

An individual entering the U.S. on an L-1A visa to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year, rather than three. The L-1 status will need to be extended rather soon after the arrival to the U.S. posing a challenge to start ups and entrepreneurs. Very often, it is hard to demonstrate a thriving business and new hires in only six months of operation when the extension petition can be filed. An individual entering the U.S. on an L-1B visa cannot establish a new office but can be employed at a qualifying new office as long as there are sufficient physical premises, and the employer has the financial ability to pay the employee and do business in the U.S. These individuals will also only be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year, rather than three.

Contact Ellen Freeman For L-1 Visa Representation

Contact L-1 visa lawyer, Ellen Freeman and her team of legal experts. Ellen and her team represent individuals in L-1A cases throughout the country.

Fill out the contact us form below and a member of her team will contact you about your L-1 visa case.