Intracompany Transferee (L-1) Visas

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The Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager (L-1) nonimmigrant visa category is reserved for employees who are being transferred temporarily to the United States from abroad to provide services to a related entity (i.e., branch, subsidiary, or affiliate) having a qualifying business relationship with the employer abroad.

To qualify for an L-1 visa:

  • Both the United States and the foreign company must be doing business during the whole course of the beneficiary employee’s employment in the United States.
  • The foreign employee must be coming to the United States to work as a manager, executive, or in a position that requires specialized knowledge.
  • The foreign employee must have been working in this kind of position for the foreign company in the foreign country.
  • The foreign employee must intend to leave the United States when the visa expires.

The foreign employee may bring his or her spouse and unmarried children under age 21 to the U.S. as dependents in L-2 visa status. 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 U.S. company will be opened as a new office, the initial period of stay is for one year.

The experienced Columbus immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates can provide the legal counsel you need if you desire to file an L visa on behalf of an employee. We have the experience and the success in representing large and small corporations in the employment and transfer of foreign professionals. If you have a business abroad and wish to branch out in the U.S. and obtain an L-1 visa for yourself and then permanent residence on a faster track, this visa option may be ideal for you.

For more information and an analysis of your situation, call (800) 625-3404 to arrange a consultation. We have offices in Columbus Ohio, Cleveland Ohio, Southfield Michigan and Washington, D.C.


Procedure & Requirements for the L-1 Visa

“Qualifying Relationship” Requirement

To obtain an L-1 visa, the foreign company must have the proper relationship to the company in the United States. The following is a list of company relationships that qualify for the L-1 visa:

  • The U.S. company is a branch office of a foreign company;
  • The U.S. company owns a majority of shares of the foreign company, i.e. parent-subsidiary;
  • The U.S. company and the foreign company’s majority shares are owned by a third company, i.e. affiliated company;
  • The U.S. company is a joint venture between a foreign company and another company.

To process an L-1 visa application, a foreign parent company must own at least 50% of a U.S. subsidiary and have veto power over the subsidiary’s actions. If the companies are affiliates, the US and foreign companies must at least be 50% owned by the same ultimate parent company. Branch offices also qualify including a US company with a branch office in a foreign country and a foreign company with a US branch office. However, the branch requirement does not include an agent type setup.

One-Year Full-Time Employment Requirement

The U.S. company must file a petition for nonimmigrant worker on behalf of the beneficiary/transferee whose services are required in the US. The beneficiary/transferee (whether an executive, manager, or one with specialized knowledge) must have been a full-time employee in the foreign company for at least one year during the three years immediately preceding his admission to the US. This means that if the beneficiary/transferee is currently in the US in another status, such as F-1 or H-1B, and wants to now transfer to the L-1 visa, he is eligible to change status to an L-1 visa so long as he had worked for the foreign employer for at least one year prior to his entry into the US. It does not matter how many years the employee has been occupying this status.

For example:

  • Jane Alien was employed full time for Company A in France as a manager for 5 years.
  • She was offered a position with Company B in the U.S. on H-1B visa status. She moved to the US and worked in Company B for 4 years after that.
  • Now Jane decided to change her employment to Company C who is the parent company of Company A.
  • Jane is Eligible to receive an L-1 visa since she was employed for Company A in full-time status as a manager for at least one year within the three years immediately preceding her admission to the US on an H-1B visa.

Additional Qualifying Criteria

The U.S. company must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company for it to petition for L-1 visa transferees. The U.S. or foreign company must file a petition to prove eligibility for an L-1 visa to work in the U.S. Hence, companies operating in the U.S. for at least one year may apply for an L-1 visa to transfer someone to the U.S. from its overseas operations. If the U.S. enterprise has been operating less than one year, then the L-1 visa will only be issued for one year, after which the L-1 visa extension petition must prove that the company remains viable and that it continues to require the services of the transferred employee(s).

There is no restriction that the entity must be U.S. owned or incorporated. The key issue is the control and ownership element, i.e., one company has the legal right of possession of the assets of another, directly or indirectly. This includes legal authority to dictate the establishment, operations, and management of the day-to-day activities of the other entity.

For L-1 visa classification, the petitioning company is normally referred to as a qualifying organization doing business as an employer in United States and at least in one other country with regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and services. The United States company must establish an employer-employee relationship with the intracompany transferee. The beneficiary employee may continue to receive salary from the foreign company but the U.S. company must have control of the employee. Placement at a third-party worksite is prohibited unless the L-1 visa holder will remain under the control and supervision of the petitioning employer involving specialized knowledge specific to the employer.

Work with an Experienced L-1 Visa Attorney at Our Ohio, Chicago, or Washington, D.C. Offices

Contact the experienced Columbus immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates for L-1 visa questions. If your company has a qualifying entity in the United States, and you wish to transfer a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge professional, it is critical that you contact competent counsel as soon as possible. We can advise you on the best course of action. Our experienced lawyers will immediately review your organizational structure and the credentials of your intracompany transferees to determine whether or not you are eligible to sponsor those individuals for the L-1 visa.

Our competent attorneys are highly experienced in preparing L-1 visa applications. Contact us at (800) 625-3404 for a consultation. We are an innovative firm with proven results.


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