L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad. The L-1 classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to help establish one, with additional requirements. L-1 visa may legally be used as a stepping stone to a green card under the doctrine of dual intent. Unlike some classes of non-immigrant visas (e.g., J-1 visas), L-1 applicants may not be denied a visa on the basis that they are an intending immigrant to the United States, or that they do not have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon.
- The foreign worker must have worked abroad for the company for at least one continuous year within the previous three prior to admission in the US.
- The US and non-US employers must be related in one of four ways: parent and subsidiary; branch and headquarters; sister companies owned by a mutual parent; or 'affiliates' owned by the same or people in approximately the same percentages.
Period of Validity
L-1 is valid for a relatively short amount of time, from three months (for Iran nationals) to one year (Mexico), two years (Brazil, Russia, China), to five years (India, Japan, Germany), based on a reciprocity schedule. It may be extended to a maximum stay of seven years.
In 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 74,719 L-1 visas, out of 91,086 applications.
Spouses & Children
Upon application at the consulate or embassy, the spouse and children of the primary applicant who are under the age of 21 may be issued L-2 visas.
Children of the primary L-1 can attend school. The spouse of the primary L-1 has an automatic right to work in the United States. Children cannot accept paid employment. The spouse can, but need not, apply with the USCIS for employment authorization after arriving in the United States and, after issuance of the Employment Authorization Document, may thereafter work for any employer.
Types of L-1 Visas
The L-1 visa has two subcategories: L-1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge. L-1A status is valid for up to 7 years, L-1B for 5. After the expiration of the 7 or 5 years respectively, the foreign national can generally only qualify for L-1 status again by working abroad for at least 1 year for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. Company.
There are two types of L-1 procedures:
- Regular L-1 visas, which must be applied for and approved for each individual by the USCIS. The company must file a petition with the USCIS and each petition is evaluated on its own merits.
- Blanket L-1 visas, which are available to employers that meet certain criteria. In the case of a blanket L-1 visa petition, it has already been determined by USCIS that the company qualifies for the issuance of Intracompany Transferee visa, so the individual visa applicant need only file a copy of the approved blanket petition, along with documents supporting their personal qualifications, with the U.S. consulate or embassy having jurisdiction over their place of residence proving the applicant's qualifications.
Services that Warner Law Center Provides for L-1 Visa:
When WLC is retained for the L-1 work visa we begin communicating with sponsoring parent company to collect information and documentation relevant to the foreign entity, the company to be established in US, and the prospect foreign national employee. We review and analyze the organizational structure of the parent company, the US subsidiary, affiliate or branch, the foreign national worker's qualifications and we explore potential issues relating to job description, qualification requirements, experience, etc. We make certain the U.S. company that files the L-1 petition will be found qualified, or that the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch outside the United States is qualified and does intend to continue in business after L-1 visa issuance, and that all representations made by the company or the visa applicant in the petition submitted to USCIS are accurate and compete and the applicant is not illegible for that class of visa under INA section 212(a) for any grounds of inadmissibility. Resolving such issues, we then proceed to file an L 1 petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), along with supporting documentation showing that both the U.S. company and the foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch meet the qualifying factors set forth in the law and regulations.
Applicants who are in the United States at the time of the filing of the I-129 can request a change of status from their present nonimmigrant status (i.e. visitor, student, etc.), so long as they are in status at the time of the filing of the I-129. If they go out of status after the filing, but before approval, there is no negative consequence, and the person does not accrue unlawful presence.
For applicants who are outside US, upon receipt of Approval Notice from USCIS, we further assist them and their families with their applications for their non-immigrant visa at the consulate or embassy.