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Employment Based Nonimmigrant L-1 Visa

What is the L-1 Visa?
The L-1 visa is for a temporary worker who is coming to work at a subsidiary or parent company in the U.S.

What is the L-1 visa?
The L-1 visa is for Managers or for Executives. This visa allows a foreign nationals being transferred by their current employers to enter into the U.S. to manage an organization or a major function or division of an organization.

How do I qualify for the L-1 visa?

  • The U.S. Company to which you are being transferred must be a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner of your non-U.S. employer.
  • Your employment in the U.S. Company must be as a Manager, Executive or person with specialized knowledge and skills.

What benefits do I enjoy on an L-1 visa?

  • Be quickly issued your visa, transferred to the U.S. and work legally for a U.S. company. Be permitted to travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously until your L-1 status expires.
  • Avail yourself of visas for accompanying family member (spouse and children under the age of 21).
  • Apply for a permanent residency/Green card through employment and skip a major step of the labor certification process.

What are the limitations of the L-1 visa?

  • Work only for the U.S. employer who sponsored your L-1 visa.
  • L-1 visa status is limited initially to a maximum of a three year term. An extension for a person with specialized knowledge (L-1B) is limited to only two years (5 years total on L-1B). For Managers and Executives (L-1A), extensions may be granted in increments of two year terms but only up to seven years of total L-1-A status.

What is the difference between L-1A visa and L-1B visa?
The L-1A visa is for Managers and Executives. On L-1A visa you may apply for a Green card without going through the process of Labor Certification. If you were a Manager or Executive with the overseas branch for one year, you do not have to be in L-1A status for a year unless you are starting a new company in the U.S. after being on L-1A status for only a year.

The L-1B visa is for employees with specialized knowledge of the company’s products or procedures. L-1B employees will have to go through the process of Labor Certification when applying for green card.

What is the processing time for L-1 visa?
One to six months for L-1 and one to three weeks to process an L-1 covered by an L-1 Blanket approval. However, if you choose to file under the premium processing by paying additional fees, the petition will be adjudicated within 15 days of receipt by USCIS.

Can I extend my stay on the L-1 visa?
Yes, you may apply for an L-1 visa extension using Form I-129, and L Supplement. Extensions of two years at a time may be allowed until you have been in the U.S. for a total of seven years if you are a Manager or an Executive, or for a total of five years for employees with specialized knowledge.

Who can qualify as an L-1 Executive?
Any employee, who has worked for the foreign company for at least one year out of last three years, may qualify asan L-1 Executive. The Immigration Act of 1990 eliminated the “immediately preceding” requirement. An employee can use combination of part-time employment to meet one-year continuous requirement, if part-time work is for affiliated companies. However, one year cannot be met by working part of year for an affiliate or branch in the U.S.

How do you define a Manager & an Executive for L-1 visa purposes?
The definition of a Manager for L-1 visas includes an employee who manages an essential function of the business within a qualifying organization. A special definition of Manager applies when you are coming to set up a new office or purchase a new business in the USA.

Executive capacity is an assignment “within an organization in which the employee primarily: (i) directs the management of the organization; (ii) establishes the goals and policies of the organization; (iii) exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and (iv) receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the Directors, or Stockholders of the organization.”

What is the minimum educational requirement and experience for an Executive or Manager to be eligible for L-1 Visa?
There is no minimum educational requirement for L-1 visa.

Can L-1 petition be filed outside the U.S.?
No. The petition must be filed by the U.S. Company to the appropriate service center of the USCIS in U.S.

Can I come to the U.S. on a visitor visa or Visa Waiver while the L-1 petition is being processed?
Theoretically this is possible but not advisable. Under no account should you risk putting in jeopardy the issue of an L-1 visa by engaging in any activity that might be construed as unauthorized work. As a result of L-1 Visa Reform Act, blanket L employees are required once again to show that they worked for the company abroad for at least one year. Previously, six months of past employment was sufficient.

Can I travel after applying for the Green Card on L-1 status?
Yes, if you are in a valid L-1 status and have already applied for green card, then you do not need an Advance Parole. However, you must be coming back to work with the same employer that applied for your L-1.

What is the visa status granted to the dependents of L-1 visa holders?
L-2 visa is issued to the dependents of L-1 visa holders. Dependents include the spouse and children under 21 years of age.

Can my dependents work in the U.S. on L-1 visa?
L-2 spouse of an L-1 visa holder can now obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This employment authorization must be applied for separately by filing a petition to the appropriate service center of the USCIS. The L-2 dependent children are not permitted to work in the US.

Is there a requirement to pay L-1 holder the prevailing wage?
Not really. There is no such requirement, but paying L-1 workers significantly lower than the prevailing wage is likely to result in USCIS viewing your petition unfavorably. It could also result in investigations by the USCIS or Department of Labor.

Once the L-1 petition is approved, can I create a new corporation and purchase a new business under this newly formed corporation?
Yes, you may purchase new business, as long as it is done under the umbrella of the corporation name. If you have to change the employer, you have to file a new L-1 petition to the USCIS.

What is L-1 Blanket petition?
The L-1 Blanket petition is a device by which very large companies pre-qualify to transfer their L-1 employees to the U.S. Once the L-1 Blanket is approved, the company can transfer people to the U.S. quickly and on short notices without having the necessity of filing petitions with USCIS. There are some requirements for blanket procedure: (i) petitioner has office and has been doing business in the U.S. for one year; (ii) petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates. Petitioner and entities are engaged in commercial trade or services; (iii) combined U.S. annual sales of $25 million. U.S. workforce of 1,000 or received approval of at least 10 L petitions in last 12 months; (iv) non- profit organizations cannot file blanket petitions; (v) employee must work abroad for parent, affiliate or subsidiary for 12 months.