L-1 Visa: Intracompany Transferee

An individual who has been employed by a company located outside the U.S. for at least a year in the previous three year period can apply for an L-1 visa to work legally in the U.S.  The individual must have been employed in either a position of managerial or executive capacity (L-1A), or requiring specialized knowledge (L-1B), as defined below at the qualified company or organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately prior to the admission to the United States. The employer must have a relationship with the qualified organizations such as a parent company, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate. The named employee must come to the U.S. to work as a manager, executive or in a position of specialized knowledge for the same employer or the qualified organizations.

According to 8 CFR 214.2(I)(1)(ii)(B), Managerial Capacity means an assignment within the 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;
  3. Has authority to hire/fire or recommend as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) if another employee(s) directly supervised; if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level; and
  4. Exercises discretion over day-to-day operations for which employee has authority.

Executive Capacity means an assignment within the organization in which the employee primarily:

  1. Directs management;
  2. Establishes goals and policies;
  3. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  4. Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, board of directors, or stockholders

Specialized Knowledge means special knowledge possessed by the individual of the U.S. Company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the company’s processes and procedures, according to 8CFR 214.2(I)(1)(ii)(D).

Eligibility

You may be eligible for an L-1 visa for “intracompany transferees” if you are an executive, manager, or a worker with specialized knowledge who has worked abroad for a qualifying organization (including an affiliate, parent, subsidiary or branch of your foreign employer) for at least one year within the 3 years preceding the filing of your L-1 petition (or in some cases your admission to the United States). The organization must seek to transfer you to the United States to work in one of the capacities listed above.

Visa Petition Process

Step 1:

The U.S. company, as the L-1 sponsor, files a visa petition (Form I-129) with the USCIS evidencing that:

  1. the individual has been employed abroad  for at least one continuous year in the last three years in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position (described above);
  2. the foreign based company has a qualifying relationship (branch, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate) with a U.S. company; and
  3. the U.S. company requires the services of the individual for an executive, manager, or specialized knowledge position

The U.S. employer then files the petition and once it is approved, an application for L-1 visa may be submitted as described below.

Step 2:

Upon the approval of the visa petition (Form I-129), USCIS will send a Notice of Action (Form I-797B) which can be used to submit an application for L-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate.  The individual and his/her immediate family members will then be required to attend an interview where the data that was submitted will be verified.

Step 3:

Upon successful completion of the interview in Step 2 above, the individual may enter the U.S. and can generally stay until the expiration date on the L-1 visa.

Initial period of stay in the United States: Up to 3 years (1 year for new office petitions). Extensions possible in up to 2 year increments. Maximum period of stay: 7 years for managers and executives (L-1A); 5 years for specialized knowledge workers (L-1B).

For more information about L-1 visa, you may check U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ web page:

http://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-guide/l-1-intracompany-transferee/understanding-l-1-requirements

L-1A Visa: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/l-1a-intracompany-transferee-executive-or-manager

L-1B Visa: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/l-1b-intracompany-transferee-specialized-knowledge