The L-1 Visa category is designed to allow companies with ventures in both the United States and abroad to transfer key employees between branches. There are two sub-categories, L-1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for employees with special skills or knowledge.
If you have special skills and are interested in transferring to a U.S. branch of your company or opening a new branch of your company in the United States, the L-1 Visa category may be ideal for you.
The L-1 Visa category allows the holder to stay in the United States for an initial period of three years, with opportunities to renew based on the sub-type. L-1 Visa holders can apply for residency (a Green Card or LPR status). The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years old) of an L-1 Visa holder can join in the L-2 category. An L-2 spouse is entitled to apply for work authorization.
When a new branch of the company is being opened in the United States, either an L-1 Visa or an E-2 Visa (Treaty Investor) can be used. In our experience, an L-1 Visa is preferable to an E Visa when the new U.S. firm is being opened in addition to the old, foreign branch (rather than replacing it). The L-1 is also better when there is limited capital available for investing in the new U.S. venture, as the E-2 category has a higher capitalization standard.
To be eligible for an L-1 Visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You work for a multinational company with a branch* in the United States
- You have worked for the company, in a position abroad, for at least one full year in the previous three years
- During that prior year, you held an executive, managerial, or special-knowledge position
- You are needed in a U.S. branch of your company where you will fill a role that requires your executive, managerial, or special-knowledge skills
To qualify under the L-1A category, you must demonstrate that your role in the company will be one with managerial or executive duties, as defined in 8 CFR § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B) or (C). Generally, these duties are self-explanatory and pertain to supervisory or strategic-planning duties. Our experienced immigration staff in Nevada can help you understand whether or not you would qualify.
L-1A Managers or Executives are eligible to apply for an additional two-year stay beyond the five allowed under the basic L-1 category. Thus, an L-1A Manager/Executive may stay in the United States for up to seven years.
To learn more about L-1 Visas and to find out if you are a good candidate for such a visa, please contact our Las Vegas Immigration Law offices for a free consultation.
* The foreign company sponsoring the L-1 applicant does not need to be the sole owner of the company branch in the United States. At minimum, the sponsoring company must hold a controlling share (over 50 percent) of the U.S. entity. Also, note that the branch in the United States can be one in the process of being opened.