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L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa: What Is It?

The L-1 is a nonimmigrant work visa, which would allow you to transfer from a foreign company to live in the United States while working for a US company that has a qualifying relationship to the foreign company, provided that certain criteria are met. If you have questions about the L-1 visa or would like to consult with an attorney, contact The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience in a wide variety of complex and immigration law matters.

What is the L-1 visa for, and what does it do?

The intracompany transferee visa allows an employee of a foreign company to come to the United States and work for US company if both companies have a qualifying relationship to each other. The employee must be a manager, executive, or have specialized knowledge, as defined by immigration law. The L-1 visa has two categories:

  1. L-1A visa for manager or executive
  2. L-1B visa for specialized knowledge transferee

You may bring your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 with you to the US as your dependents in L-2 visa status.

L-1 visa as a substitute for the H-1B visa

The L-1 visa may be used as a substitute if you are not eligible for the H-1B visa. For example, to qualify for the H-1B you would need to be working in a specialty occupation, which requires at least the equivalent of a US bachelor degree or higher, among other criteria. Also, the H-1B has an annual cap on the number of visas available each year, but the L-1 does not.

Criteria for the employing company

The foreign company and US company must have a “qualifying relationship.” A qualifying relationship is defined by immigration law as a parent, affiliate, subsidiary, or branch. Both offices must possess the same ownership and control. The company must show that it has the capacity and the necessity to employ a person in your occupation.

Additional criteria if the US company will be a new office

When the US company will be created as a new office, the site must have sufficient office space to conduct business. Evidence to establish this may include lease agreements, mortgages, business plans, marketing materials, and other relevant documents. In cases involving a new office, the L-1 visa will be limited to one year, and to get an extension, evidence must be prevented to prove that the office is running sufficiently and the L-1 visa employee’s services and are still necessary to its operation.

Criteria for the L-1 employee

You must have been employed by the foreign company for one continuous year during the three-year period prior to your admission into the US. This employment must have been in the occupational category of executive, manager, or one having specialized knowledge. These occupations are strictly defined by immigration law as explained in other articles following this one.

Period of stay

The initial period of stay is for three years. Extensions of stay may be granted in two-year increments. The maximum period of stay is 7 years for the L-1A, and 5 years for the L-1B. If the US company will be opened as a new office, the initial period of stay is for one year.

If you have any questions about the L-1 intracompany transferee visa or any other immigration matter. Please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA for a consultation with an attorney at the nearest office close to you. Let us plan a business strategy that works best for you. We are an innovative firm with proven results.

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