L-1 Visas: Intra-company Transferees
L-1 visas are available for a United States (US) employer who wishes to transfer an employee from one of their international offices to an office located in the US. These visas are also available for foreign companies seeking to establish an office in the US. There are three types of L-1 visas:
- L-1A visa for executives and managers valid up to seven years
- L-1B visa for specialized knowledge personnel valid up to five years
- L-1 blanket petition
Intra-company transferees must have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year in the preceding three years and be coming to the US to fill an "executive," "managerial," or "specialized knowledge" position. The petitioning company must be a qualifying organization meaning that both the foreign company and the US company must continue doing business for the entirety of the transfer. In addition, the overseas company must be related to a US company in a specific manner. This relationship analysis can be quite complex but generally the requirement will be met if:
- The overseas company and the US company are branches of the same corporation.
- The US company owns more than 50% of the overseas company or vice versa.
- Both the US company and the overseas company are majority owned by a third company.
Transferees in the L-1A category must be "executive" or "managerial" employees. Generally, "executive" employees are those that supervise the work of other employees or supervise a certain function of the company. A "manager" is an employee who directs a department, subdivision, or function of the company; has the ability to hire and fire or recommend these actions; and exercises discretion over day to day operations. L-1A executives/managers can spend a maximum of seven years on L-1A status in the US.L-1B Visas: Specialized Knowledge Transferees
L-1B visas are available for individuals who have specialized knowledge of the company product and its international application or advanced knowledge of technical processes or procedures of the company. L-1B specialized knowledge personnel can spend a maximum of five years on L-1B status in the US. Over the past several years, the L-1B visa category has faced increased scrutiny from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) making it essential that an experienced immigration attorney be consulted regarding a proposed L-1B application. At Berger Law, our attorneys are familiar with this complex process and can assist clients in preparing the strongest petition possible.L-1 Blanket Visas
Companies who meet certain criteria can take advantage of the L-1 blanket program, which allows the company to submit one application for all executive/managerial/specialized knowledge transferees. Once approved, the company can transfer as many employees as necessary. These petitions are generally utilized by larger companies as the USCIS mandates that the petitioner must have at least three domestic or foreign branches and either 10 L-1 approvals in the past year, US sales of at least 25 million, or a US workforce of at 1,000 employees.
For more information concerning L-1 visas, please contact Samuel Berger, Attorney at Law at (201) 587-1500 or (212) 380-8117. He will be able to advise you of what you need to do to obtain the correct visa for your needs.