What is an L1 Visa?
An L1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows employees or minority owners from companies abroad (“parent company”) to work for an affiliate or subsidiary company in the United States.
L1 visa has two subcategories L1A and L1B. The L1A visa lets the foreign company transfer a manager or executive to open and direct the subsidiarity or affiliated business in the United States. The L1B visa lets the foreign company transfer an employee with specialized skills or knowledge to work at the subsidiary of affiliated business in the United States.
The L1A visa beneficiary must:
- have worked for the parent company abroad for a consecutive period of at least one year during the last three years.
- have worked as an executive, a manager, or employee with specialized knowledge
- must be coming to the U.S. to supervise other professional or managerial staff and/or direct and control the day-to-day operations.
The L1B visa beneficiary must:
- must have been employed by the parent company for at least one year during the last three years.
- must be coming to the U.S. to work for the subsidiary business.
It is generally harder to come to the U.S. with an L1B specialized knowledge visa. You must be familiar with the parent company’s specific products, procedures, or methods to qualify for the L1B visa.
However, if you work abroad as an employee with specialized knowledge, you may qualify for an L1A visa instead. If you worked as a Manager or Executive, you could apply for an L1B visa if the subsidiary has been in business for at least one year.
The L1A visa for owners, executives, and managers lasts 7 years. If the transfer to the U.S. involves opening the subsidiary, the initial stay is only one year. L1A visa holders can apply to extend the L1A visa before its expiration. The maximum an initial stay can be granted is 3-years with subsequent 2-year extensions. The L1B visa for employees with specialized knowledge lasts 5 years.
If you are an L1 visa holder, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may come to the United States with you. These family members may seek admission under the L2 nonimmigrant classification. If approved, they are generally granted the same period of stay as you.
Yes. After arriving in the United States, your spouse must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765) with USCIS and pay the applicable fees.
The law does not define a minimum amount that the parent company must invest in the United States. However, that amount must be enough to operate a real business that is large enough to require an executive or manager that will oversee the operation and manage several employees. Generally, the subsidiary must create several jobs to move the business ahead, and the L1A visa holder will supervise those employees. The minimum investment also depends on the geographical location and nature of the business.
The new business in the United States generally requires at least 7-10 employees in addition to the L1 visa holder. However, each business is different and requires individual consideration.
To apply for an L1 visa, you must submit a complete petition package with form I-129 plus the applicable fee to USCIS. Once the case is approved, you will go through a consular process. The consular process requires the applicant to appear for the visa interview at the American Consulate or Embassy abroad. Once the visa is approved, you and your dependents will receive the visa stamp on your passports. The visa allows you and your family to enter the United States as L1 and L2 visa holders.
You can also apply for a change of status if you are in the United States with another nonimmigrant status.
Yes. The parent company that is abroad must remain open and doing business to support its business in the United States.
Yes. Premium processing is available for nonimmigrant workers using Form I-907. The form and the appropriate fees are required in the petition package. The request for premium processing service provides the petitioner with a quick response from USCIS. Usually, a decision or request for more evidence us received in about 15 days from the submission of the petition to USCIS.
Yes. L1 visa is a dual intent visa. Dual intent means the intent is immigrant and non-immigrant. L1A visa holders start as non-immigrant and can later on, apply for a green card (immigrant) under the EB1-C category for a multinational managers or executives. L1B visa holders must go through a Labor Certification Process (PERM) to qualify for a green card.
How Terra Immigration Partners helps?
The attorneys at Terra Immigration Partners help individuals apply for an L1 visa through a qualifying subsidiary of a parent company abroad. We have assisted clients from all over the world with their immigration cases. Our lawyers ensure that your application is strong and justified. We also help you navigate the interview process.
Let’s talk about your case. Call or email us today and speak to an immigration lawyer.