L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa
L-1 is an employment-based, temporary, non-immigrant visa for employees of multinational companies. It allows international companies to transfer foreign employees in a managerial or executive position, or employees with specialized knowledge, to the U.S. L-1 employees can continue to work for the same company, its parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate in the U.S. L-1 visa also helps small foreign businesses to expand to the U.S. by sending L-1 employees to the U.S. with the purpose of establishing an office in the U.S.
L-1 visa holders are not required to stay in the U.S. for a continuous period of time to maintain L-1 status. The company must employ the L-1 visa holder on a full-time basis, but he/she may work for the company outside of the U.S. and still maintain L-1 status to work in the U.S.
Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other non-U.S. country during the beneficiary’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1.
Have a qualifying relationship with a non-U.S. company - being a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.
Have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the U.S.
Seeking to enter the U.S. to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity, or in a specialized knowledge capacity, for one of its qualifying organizations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to stay in the U.S. during the validity of my L-1 status?
L-1 visa holders are not required to stay in the U.S. for a continuous period of time to maintain L-1 status. The company must employ the L-1 visa holder on a full-time basis, but you may work for the company outside of the U.S. and still maintain L-1 status to work in the U.S.
What is the difference between L-1A and L-1B visas?
L-1A is issued to transfer employees in management and executive roles. L-1B is issued to professional employees with specialized knowledge of the company’s systems, trade secrets, patents, etc.
L-1A is issued for a maximum of 7 years; L-1B is issued for a maximum of 5 years. Initially it will be granted for 1 year or 3 years, with extensions granted in 2-year increments till you reach the maximum period.
L-1A holders can apply for permanent residence under EB-1C category as the priority dates are almost always current. Labor Certification is not required. L-1B visa holders cannot apply for permanent residence under EB-1C. They usually apply for EB-2 or EB-3, which requires Labor Certification.
I am currently working on a L-1 visa in the U.S. Can I change to another U.S. entity, which is also a subsidiary of our overseas company?
No. You cannot use your original L-1 visa to work for any other company, even if that company has a qualifying relationship with your overseas company. If you move to another U.S. entity, that entity must file an independent L-1 petition for you.
What is the difference between a L-1A visa and EB-5?
The main difference is that the L-1A is a non-immigrant visa, whilst EB-5 is an immigrant visa that leads to conditional residency.
EB-5 requires an investment of either $500K or $1 million, depending on the location of your commercial enterprise. The initial investment for L-1A can be $250K-$300K. However, if the company does not have revenue in the short run, to qualify for L-1A, the eventual investment is usually higher than the initial investment.
EB-5 requires the investor to create 10 direct full-time jobs for U.S. citizens for permanent residents. There is no mandatory number of jobs that need to be created for L-1A visas. In our experience, to successfully obtain L-1A visa, 5 full-time employees are usually sufficient and it is not required that they are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
EB-5 approval takes at least a year. For certain nationals whose visa numbers are not currently available, it can take even longer. The L-1A process takes 1-3 months.
Can my wife start her own business with her L2 visa?
Yes if she has a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD). With an EAD she will be able to work for an employer, be self-employed, or start her own business. If she doesn’t have an EAD, she can only start and own the business but she is not able to work for it as an employee. As an L2 visa holder, she can apply for an EAD by submitting Form I-765 to the USCIS.
How can I prepare for my L-1 visa interview?
Collect and take the following documents with you:
Your appointment confirmation
Your visa appointment payment slip
I-797 Approval Notice
*** Confirm before arriving for your interview if any other documents are required. ***
Be prepared to answer questions and talk about the following key points:
Your salary, position and job responsibilities in both the foreign and U.S. entities.
The business operations and organizational structure of both entities.
For L-1A interviews, you should be familiar with the U.S. entity’s management and executive structures and business plan.
For L-1B, you must be able to explain your specialized knowledge that you will bring to the U.S. entity.
*** Review your petition documents before arriving for your interview. It is important that your answers during the interview are consistent with the information in your petition approved by the USCIS. ***