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-1B category, you must demonstrate that your role in the company will be as an employee with specialized knowledge, as defined in 8 CFR § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(D). Generally speaking, this means that you have special knowledge about your company’s product, services, techniques, etc or you have special skills or experience that make you valuable to your company’s operations in the United States. An experienced immigration attorney in Las Vegas can help you understand whether or not you would qualify.
L-1B Employees with Special Knowledge are eligible for one two-year renewal of their visas after the initial three-year period, for a total stay in the United States of up to five years.
To learn more about L-1 Visas and to find out if you are a good candidate for such a visa, please contact one of our Nevada immigration 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.