The L-1 Visa in a Nutshell: Opening a New Office in the U.S. or Transferring an Employee to the U.S.

The L-1 Visa in a Nutshell: Opening a New Office in the U.S. or Transferring an Employee to the U.S.

Companies that wish to establish a new office in the U.S. or send employees to a U.S based office may benefit from the L-1 Intra-company Transferee visa. The L-1 visa category allows companies to transfer an executive, manager, or an employee with specialized knowledge from an associated foreign office to work at its U.S. based office or to open a new office in the U.S.

The L-1 classification is divided into two categories. The L-1A classification applies to executives and managers, while the L-1B category applies to employees with specialized knowledge of a company’s products, processes, or services. The general requirements for the employer are the same for both categories, but differ with regard to the type of employee being petitioned for.

General Requirements for an L-1 Employer

The L-1 employer must meet the following requirements:

  • The U.S. employer must have a relationship with the foreign company providing the employee. The relationship can be that of a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.
  • The petitioning employer must presently or in the future conduct business in the U.S. and at least one other country either directly or through its parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate during the pendency of the employee’s work in the U.S.

Requirements for L-1A Employee

The L-1A employee must meet the following requirements:

  • The employee must have been working for the associated foreign company outside of the U.S. continuously for one year within the last three years before the employee’s arrival in the U.S.
  • The employee must provide services as an executive or manager to the U.S. based company. The employee’s role must be primarily related to serving as an executive or manager and not the day-to-day activities of running the business.

Requirements for L-1B Employee

 The L-1B employee must meet the following requirements:

  • The employee must have been working for the associated foreign company outside of the U.S. continuously for one year within the last three years before the employee’s arrival in the U.S.
  • The employee must provide services as a specialized knowledge employee to the U.S. based company. A specialized knowledge employee is one who is skilled in a company’s products, processes, or services. For instance, an employee who developed a foreign company’s proprietary software program and whose skills are not readily available in the U.S., may be transferred to the U.S. based office as a specialized knowledge employee to implement the software program.

Opening a New Office in the U.S.

 A company that intends to open a new office in the U.S. must also demonstrate it has acquired ample office space, the employee has been continuously working as an executive or manager for one year in the last three years prior to filing, and that the proposed new office will support the new position within one year of approval.

 Family Members

 Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old may accompany the L-1 employee to the U.S. These family members are given L-2 status and are typically given the same period of stay as the principal L-1 worker.

 

Length of Stay in the U.S.

L-1A employees will be allowed to stay and work in the U.S. for an initial period of up to three years, with extensions of stay granted for up to three years, with extensions of stay granted for up to two additional years at a time, for a maximum period of seven years. Executives and managers sent to the U.S. to establish a new office will be granted an initial period of stay of up to one year, with possible extensions.

L-1B employees will be allowed to stay and work in the U.S. for an initial period of up to three years, with extensions of stay granted for up to two additional years at a time, for a maximum period of five years. Specialized knowledge employees sent to the U.S. to establish a new office will be granted an initial period of stay of up to one year.

Further Information

VisaZip helps individuals and businesses find more efficient solutions to their immigration needs. With over two decades of combined experience handling thousands of immigration cases, our attorneys will help you navigate the complex landscape of U.S. immigration law to find the solution that is best for you. Please contact us to learn more about the L-1 visa and to schedule a consultation.

 

Written by Farid Masoud Esq. Mr. Masoud previously served as an Assistant Chief Counsel for Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and as an Immigration Officer with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Mr. Masoud is currently a partner at VisaZip LLP, an immigration law firm that serves individuals throughout the U.S. and globally.

 

Please note: This article is for general information purposes and should not be construed as legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact an experienced immigration attorney for your specific immigration issue.

 

2018-10-04T06:28:22+00:00