What is the L-1 Nonimmigrant Status?
The L-1 is a temporary visa, valid for three months to five years, based on a reciprocity schedule. With extensions, the maximum stay for Executives and Managers is seven years. The maximum for Employees with specialized knowledge is five years.
There are two types of L-1 Visas:
- L-1A for Executives and Managers, valid up to 7 years. This visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This also enables a foreign company to create a new office in the United States by sending an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.
- L-1B for Workers with specialized knowledge, valid up to 5 years. This visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests, from one of its foreign offices to one of its U.S. offices. Through this visa, a foreign company that wants to establish an office in the U.S. may send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help create one.
Period of Stay
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1A managers and executives, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years. For all L-1B employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of five years.
Can I bring my family?
Yes, the transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age in L-2 status. They will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization. There is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.
What are Blanket Applications?
A Blanket Petition or Application allows certain organizations to establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions. The following are required to establish eligibility for Blanket L Certification:
- The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations are engaged in commercial trade or services;
- The petitioner has an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more;
- The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
- The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations meet one of the following criteria:
- Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
- Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
- Have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.
The approval of a Blanket L Petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted L-1A classification. But it provides the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS.
Learn more about the new Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Visa applicants.
Can I use the L-1 Visa to open a new office in the United States?
Yes. A foreign company may send an employee as an executive, manager or specialized knowledge employee to establish a new office in the United States. For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager, the employer must also show that:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee with specialized knowledge to the United States to be employed in a qualifying new office, the employer must show that:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office; and
- The employer has the financial ability to compensate the employee and begin doing business in the United States.
The L-1 visa application can get complicated particularly for those who are planning to establish new offices in the United States. Please contact us for a consultation if you would like more information or if you have any questions. We can help you plan and time your L-1 visa application to help you maximize your resources. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.
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