L-1 INTRACOMPANY TRANSFER VISA

Are you a company moving an employee to your US office?

L-1 Intracompany Transferee

The L-1 visa enables multinational companies to expand operations by transferring qualified staff to a newly established or existing United States subsidiary, affiliate, parent or branch office.

An employee may be eligible for an L-1 visa if he or she meets the following requirements:

  • Employee is required to fill an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge role in the US; and
  • Employee has been employed abroad by the same company, or a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary thereof, in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge role for one of the last three years.

An executive role is defined as an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

  • Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

A managerial role is defined as an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

  • Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization;
  • Has the authority to hire and hire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions, or if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy; and
  • Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

A specialized knowledge role is defined as a role in which:

  • Special knowledge is 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
  • Advanced knowledge is possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s processes and procedures.

L-1 Application Process

Obtaining an L-1 visa is a two-step process involving: 1) a petition filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and 2) a visa interview at a US consular post abroad.

1. L-1 Petition Processing

Petition Documentation
In order for an employee to obtain an L-1 visa, it will be necessary for a company with a qualifying relationship to file an L-1 visa petition with US on behalf of the employee. The petitioner may be a US company, or a foreign company.

The L-1 petition must include the following to demonstrate eligibility for the L-1 visa:

  • Evidence that the petitioner and the organization which employed you or will employ you are qualifying organizations;
  • Evidence that the employee will be employed in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity;
  • Evidence that the employee will have one continuous year of full-time employment abroad with a qualifying organization within three years preceding the filing of the petition;
  • Evidence that the employee’s prior year of employment abroad was in a position that was managerial, executive, or involved specialized knowledge; and
  • Evidence that the employee’s prior education, training and employment qualifies him or her to perform the intended services in the United States.

New Office
If an employee will be coming to the US as an executive or manager to open or be employed in a new office in the United States, the company must submit evidence that:

  • Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured;
  • The employee has been employed for one continuous year in the three year preceding the filing of the petition in an executive or managerial capacity and that the proposed employment involves executive or managerial authority over the new operation; and
  • The intended US operation, within one year of the approval of the petition will support an executive or managerial position.

If the employee will be coming to the US in a specialized knowledge capacity to open or to be employed in a new office, the petitioner must submit evidence that:

  • Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured;
  • The business entity in the United States is or will be a qualifying organization; and
  • The company filing the petition has the financial ability to remunerate the employee and commence doing business in the United States.

Petition Adjudication
Once the L-1 petition is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Processing times may vary depending on USCIS workload.

If during the adjudication process a USCIS adjudicating officer determines that additional information and/or documentation is needed to render a decision on the case, a request for additional information will be issued. Such requests vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested.

Upon receipt of the requested information and documentation, USCIS will resume processing of the petition.

Premium Processing
For an additional fee, a petitioner may request premium processing of a petition. Under this service USCIS will adjudicate the case within 15 calendar days. If a request for additional evidence is issued on a petition filed using the premium processing service, USCIS will have an additional 15 calendar days from receipt of the response to adjudicate the case.

2. L-1 Visa Interview

Presuming the L-1 petition is approved, the employee will have to appear for a visa interview at a US consular post abroad. Interview procedures vary widely among consular posts so it is important to carefully follow instructions provided for the post where the L-1 interview will be held.

At the L-1 visa interview a consular officer will ask the employee questions to confirm the information provided in the L-1 petition about the applicant and his or her intended US employment. The employee will be notified of the decision made on the application at the end of the interview. Provided the application is approved the consular officer will retain the employee’s passport for visa stamping.

The passport with embossed L-1 visa stamp will be returned to the employee within approximately one week of the interview. Once received the employee is permitted to travel to the US to work in L-1 status in line with the employment described in the L -1 petition.

Dependents

Spouses and children may apply for L-2 visas which will allow them to reside with the employee in the United States. Dependent visa applications may be made at the time of the interview, or by scheduling a separate interview at a US consular post following approval of the L-1 visa application. Once in the United States in L-2 status, spouses may apply for employment authorization which will allow him/her to legally work in the United States for any employer.

L-1 Visa Renewal

If an employee is performing an executive or managerial role in the United States, he or she will be allowed to spend seven years in the US in L-1 status before he or she must return abroad for at least one year before being granted L-1 status again.
If an employee is performing a specialized knowledge role in the United States, he or she will be allowed to spend five years in the US in L-1 status before he or she must return abroad for at least one year before being granted L-1 status again.

MORE DETAILED REQUIREMENTS FOR L-1A CLASSIFICATION (Manager/Executive)

To qualify a beneficiary for L-1A classification, the company must show that the employee:

  • Will be employed in a managerial or executive position in the United States;
  • Has prior education, training, or employment that qualifies him or her to perform the intended services in the United States; and
  • Has at least one continuous year of full-time employment abroad with a qualifying organization within the three years before application for admission to the United States.

For L-1A classification to apply the overseas position AND the proposed position in the United States must be in a managerial or executive capacity. The company must present the beneficiary’s typical managerial duties, and the percentage of time to be spent on each. In addition, the company should address the following questions:

  1. Will the beneficiary manage the organization, department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization? Please describe.
  2. Will the beneficiary supervise and control the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees? Please describe. If the employee is a manager of a team, provide a list of the job titles, job descriptions and CVs for all subordinate employees. 
  3. Will the beneficiary have authority to hire and fire or recommend similar personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) if other employees will be directly supervised, or if no other employees will be directly supervised, will the beneficiary function at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the managed function)? 
  4. Will the beneficiary make decisions on daily operations of the activity or function under his or her authority?
  5. Will the beneficiary establish the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function?
  6. Will the beneficiary exercise wide latitude in discretionary decision-making?
  7. Will the beneficiary receive only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or shareholders?

If the beneficiary will be a first-line supervisor, submit evidence showing the supervised employees will be professionals. (Note: A professional is an individual who is a member of the professions, such as architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academies, or seminaries.)

MORE DETAILED REQUIREMENTS FOR L-1B CLASSIFICATION (Specialized Knowledge)

Specialised knowledge is defined as 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, an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures. To qualify, the employer must be prepared to address the following points: 

  1. State the product, service, tool, research, equipment, process, or procedure the beneficiary uses that involves specialized knowledge.
  2. Explain how the knowledge for the position is different than that for similar positions in the industry.
  3. Describe how the knowledge involved in the position is “advanced” within your organization’s processes and procedures.
  4. Explain how your equipment, system, product, technique, or service is “special,” and how it is applied in the international marketplace.
  5. Explain why someone else in this field cannot perform these duties.
  6. State the minimum time required to obtain this knowledge, including training and actual experience accrued after the completion of training.
  7. Explain how the beneficiary role in significant assignments has enhanced the employer’s productivity, competitiveness, image, or financial position.

BLANKET L

General Requirements

US companies seeking to employ multiple foreign nationals in L-1 status may file a blanket petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services which serves as continuing evidence of the companies’ qualifying relationship. Once a company’s blanket L-1 petition is approved, sponsored L-1 visa applicants need only attend a visa interview to establish their eligibility for the visa classification sought.

Company Eligibility

To be eligible for a blanket petition a company must meet the following requirements:

  • The filing company and its related companies must be engaged in commercial trade or services;
  • The filing company must have an office in the US that has been doing business for one year or more;
  • The filing company must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
  • The filing company and the other qualifying organizations must have obtained at least ten L-1 petition approvals during the previous twelve months; or have US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a US workforce of at least 1,000 employees.

Blanket L-1 Petition Process

Petition Documentation

In order for your company to obtain a blanket L-1 approval, it will be necessary for the filing company to provide the following documentation to demonstrate eligibility:

  • Evidence that the filing company meets the aforementioned eligibility requirements; and
  • Evidence that the filing company and the organizations included it is petition are qualifying organizations.
Petition Adjudication

Once your company’s blanket L-1 petition is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Processing times may vary depending on USCIS workload.

If during the adjudication process a USCIS adjudicating officer determines that additional information and/or documentation is needed to render a decision on the case, a request for additional information will be issued. Such requests vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested.

Upon receipt of the requested information and documentation, USCIS will resume processing of the petition.

Premium Processing
For an additional fee, you may request premium processing of your company’s petition. Under this service USCIS will adjudicate the case within 15 calendar days. If a request for additional evidence is issued on a petition filed using the premium processing service, USCIS will have an additional 15 calendar days from receipt of the response to adjudicate the case.

L-1 Application Process Pursuant to a Blanket Petition

Following approval of the Blanket L-1 petition, employees seeking L-1 status must attend an interview at which time their eligibility for the visa category will be determined.

Applicant Eligibility

An individual may be eligible for an L-1 visa if they meet the following requirements:

  • He/she is required to fill an executive or managerial knowledge role in the US, or fill the role of a specialized knowledge professional; and
  • He/she has been employed abroad by the same company, or a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary thereof, in an executive or managerial role, or the role of a specialized knowledge professional, for one of the last three years.

An executive role is defined as an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

  • Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

A managerial role is defined as an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

  • Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization;
  • Has the authority to hire and hire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions, or if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy; and
  • Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

A specialized knowledge professional role is defined as a role in which:

  • The individual is a member of a profession, including but not limited to architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians and teachers; and
  • Special knowledge is 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
  • Advanced knowledge is possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s processes and procedures.

Dependents

An L-1 beneficiary’s spouse and children may apply for L-2 visas which will allow them to reside with the beneficiary in the US. Dependent visa applications may be made at the time of the l L-1 beneficiary’s interview, or by scheduling a separate interview at a US consular post following approval of the beneficiary’s L-1 employee’s visa application. Once in the US in L-2 status, an L-1 beneficiary’s spouse may apply for employment authorization which will allow him/her to legally work in the US for any employer.

L-1 Visa Renewal

An L-1 beneficiary performing an executive or managerial role in the US will be allowed to spend a maximum of seven years in the US in L-1 status before he/she must return abroad for at least one year before being granted L-1 status again.

An L-1 beneficiary performing a specialized knowledge role in the US will be allowed to spend five a maximum of five years in the US in L-1 status before he/she must return abroad for at least one year before being granted L-1 status again.