L-1A & L-1B Intracompany Transferee Executive, Manager or Specialized Knowledge Employee
L-1A Visa. The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the U.S. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the U.S. with the purpose of establishing one.
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
Have a qualifying relationship (a controlling interest in both companies) with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade
Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the U.S. and abroad.
To qualify, each named employee must also:
Have been working for the foreign qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the U.S.; and
Be seeking to enter the U.S. to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations
Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.
Managerial capacity generally refers to 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.
L-1B Visa. The L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to its US office.
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employee must have the same qualifications of the L-1A rules above, but must also be seeking to enter the U.S. to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Specialized knowledge means either special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’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 organization’s processes. There may be certain individuals who will have specific and necessary knowledge relating to the production line equipment and processes to be used by the Company.
New Offices. For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the U.S. as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
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
The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition
Period of Stay. Qualified employees entering the U.S. to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year (which can be extended). All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years (which also can be extended). 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 Worker. 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.
Extend/Change Status. If these family members are already in the U.S. and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply.
Spouses. Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.