The L-1 Visa allows for intra-company transfers of one or more employees in a foreign country to their employer’s offices in the United States. The L-1 category offers three different types of visas that follow:
- L-1A for employees who work in executive or managerial jobs.
- L-1B for employees who have specialized knowledge of the employer’s products or services.
- Blanket L-1 Visas for multinational entities that require the simple and rapid transfer to the United States of employees who are appropriately qualified
Distinguishing Between L-1A and L-1B Visas
L-1A executives and managers are primarily for nonimmigrant high-level executives and managers. A person’s job title along doesn’t qualify him or her for this visa. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will be scrutinizing the nature of the involvement of the employee with the functioning of the business rather than his or her title. To qualify as an executive, an individual might be approved if he or she possesses the following qualifications:
- Has direct management over the business entity or a major division or function of it.
- Sets and implements significant goals and policies.
- Has broad decision-making authority.
- Is the recipient of mere general supervision or direction from executives who are placed higher than he or she is placed.
To qualify as a manager, an individual might be approved for a L-1A Visa if he or she has the following qualifications:
- The employee directs the management of the business entity or a major division or component of it.
- Is in charge of the work of other executives or managers, or that manager is in charge of an essential function of a business entity or a division or part of a division of the business entity.
- Can hire or fire personnel or otherwise authorize disciplinary action against them.
- Exercises his or her sound and broad discretion regarding the daily operations of a division or part of a division of the entity.
The L-1B Specialized Knowledge Visa
This is also a nonimmigrant visa that allows an employer in the United States to transfer a high-level employee with specialized knowledge relative to the employer’s business from an affiliated foreign office to one of its offices here in the U.S. It even allows the company to transfer a specialized knowledge employee to assist in establishing a U.S. office. The employer must file a I-129 petition and pay the requisite filing fee on behalf of the employee possessing the special knowledge.
What is Specialized Knowledge?
In the context of an L-1B Visa, specialized knowledge is one of the following two:
- Special knowledge possessed by a person of the petitioning business entity’s product, service, equipment, research, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets.
- Having an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
Employing Company Qualification for Sponsorship
The sponsoring company must have a significant degree of direct or indirect ownership in the United States entity like a branch or subsidiary. They need not be engaged in the same business. A tenuous relationship will be insufficient for an L-1B Visa.
How Long is a L-1B Visa Good For?
If an employee enters the United States for purposes of establishing a new office, he or she will be allowed only a one-year stay. Other employees are allowed three years with the possibility of a two-year extension. They are permitted to bring their spouse and children under the age of 21 on L-2 classifications.
An intra-company relationship might be established company had a strong history of obtaining L-1 visas in the past and has a minimum of 1,000 employees. Blanket petitions give the employer flexibility in not needing individual L-1 Visas.
There are many advantages for holders of an L-1 visa. One of those is that he or she is permitted to file a petition for permanent U.S. residency while in this country on their L-1. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, contact the California Central Valley immigration lawyers at Maison Law with your questions on L-1 visas. American was built on immigration. Our objective is to help employers continue to remain strong and profitable from now and into the future and see their employees grow with them.