As one of the most highly sought-after temporary visas in the US business visa category, this intra company transfer visa allows companies abroad to relocate key executive, managerial, or specialized employees to the US. The transfer may be to an existing office, or for the purpose of establishing a new office in the US. The US office may be a parent/daughter company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company
The L1 intra company transfer category is one of our high-volume case types where we truly excel. As US business visa experts, we not only represent large multinational corporations but also love working with small business start-ups and new offices that may not be favored by USCIS. Our high success rate with some of the most complicated and challenging L-1 cases testifies to our belief in and dedication to bringing entrepreneurial innovation of all shapes and sizes into the US.
Business owners who have worked in or for the foreign business can also qualify for the L-1 visa. The foreign business must continue to operate even during the owner’s absence, and the owner should have worked for the business for at least one year within the last three years, as with any other intracompany transferee. This presents a feasible, though temporary alternative to EB5 or E2 for entrepreneurs desiring to do business in the US without making a substantial investment.
L1 Intra Company Transfer
L1A Visa - Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
The L1A visa category enables employees of an executive or managerial capacity to be transferred to work at a US office or to establish a new one. An executive under the L1A should have the authority to make at least some key decisions without much oversight. A manager, as defined by the L1A category, has the ability to supervise and oversee the work of professional employees and manage and organize at an organizational, departmental, sub divisional or functional level.
L1B Visa - Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge Classification
For many businesses, a key employee with specialized knowledge is just as essential to the running of the business as an executive or manager. This is where the L1B visa comes in. An employee with specialized knowledge under L1B is one who possesses specific knowledge about the products, services, systems, or processes of the organization.
L1 Benefits & Limitations
L1 Visa Advantages
There are a variety of important advantages when considering L1 visas. For employers who are looking to expand their business into the US market, the L 1 intra company transfer visa provides a great opportunity to open a new office without the substantial investment required by other investment and business visas such as E2 or EB5. If a foreign company is already a large multinational entity that wishes to send multiple employees to their US operations, they may apply through an L1 blanket visa petition. The L1 blanket visa allows for employers to file for multiple employee transfers under a single petition and single fee.
Benefits for employees are also manifold. Firstly, intracompany transferee requirements are far less stringent than for other categories of employment based visa. The H1B or O1 visa, for example, require degrees and/or possession of “extraordinary ability” in order to qualify. Also, an L 1 applicant is already employed with the foreign entity, so it is not necessary to find a sponsoring entity in the US.
Since there is no annual cap on the number of L1 visas, there is no “lottery draw” that can lead to the rejection of qualifying petitions. The L-1A visa in particular has a maximum 7 year stay with extensions (though the L1B is only extendable for 5 years), and both the L-1A and L-1B visa allow holders to pursue permanent residence during their temporary stay.
L1 Visa Disadvantages
While there are many wonderful benefits of the L-1 visa, they are only applicable when some fairly narrow set of circumstances are already in place. Applicants must already have been employed with the foreign entity for a period of at least one year during the most recent 3 years prior to the applicant’s entry. The entity must also have active operations in a foreign country as well as an affiliated operating entity in the US (or be able to establish a new office in the US). This places some major restrictions on the types of US entities that can sponsor an employee for an L 1 visa compared to other employment based visa categories like the H1B.
For both the L 1A and L-1B visa, the 5 to 7-year maximum stay with extension are strictly enforced, so those wishing to stay longer must make an L1 visa renewal application or transfer their status. Finally, L 1 visa holders are not permitted to begin any entrepreneurial endeavors of their own or work for any other entity than the sponsoring employer.
L1 Visa Requirements
The petitioning entity may be a corporation, non-profit or religious organization, or other qualifying entity and must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign entity. Qualifying relationships include parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate companies.
Both the US company and the foreign entity from which the employees are being sent must be actively conducting business by delivering goods or services. Growth projections for the company should be sustainable yet feasible based on real data within the market area of the business.
Requirements for employees applying for an L1 visa are not as high as for some other US visa types for foreign workers. Degrees and specialty skills regarded as standards of “extraordinary ability” are not necessary for this visa category.
However, employees being sponsored through the L 1A or L-1B must have been employed with the foreign company for a minimum of one year during the three years prior to application, and must be employed in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity. An executive should be responsible for making large-scale decisions without significant supervision, and a manager should oversee at least several employees within a department or for a major function of the company. Specialty knowledge is of the kind that is not easily replaceable by a US employee after a standard training period.
For every category, types of tasks and levels of responsibility should correspond with their job titles, and proposed salaries should be within industry standards for their specific market areas.