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Intra Company Transferee (L-1) Visa

I. General Requirements

The Intra Company transferee (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. 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. Finally, since the L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, the foreign employee must intend to leave the United States when the visa expires.

Contact the experienced immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates 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 US and obtain an L-1 visa for yourself and then permanent residence on a faster track, contact us as this visa option may be ideal for you.

II. Procedure and Requirements for the L-1 visa:

The requirements for obtaining an L-1 visa are that the foreign company has 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:

  1. The U.S. company is a branch office of a foreign company;
  2. The U.S. company owns a majority of shares of the foreign company i.e. parent-subsidiary;
  3. The U.S. company and the foreign company’s majority shares are owned by a third company i.e. affiliated company;
  4. The U.S. company is a joint venture between a foreign company and another company.
A. One Year Full Time Employment in the Foreign Company

The US 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.


  • 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 US 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. It does not matter that Jane was in the US for 4 years on H-1B visa. It is sufficient that immediately prior to her entry in the US, she had the requisite one year experience for Company A.
B. Qualifying Organizations

According to US immigration regulations, companies seeking to obtain L-1 visas for their employees must be “qualifying organizations.” A qualifying organization is a US or foreign corporation, firm, or other legal entity, which can include sole proprietorships and partnerships.

C. Qualifying relationship

To process an L-1 visa application, a foreign parent company must own at least 50% of a US 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.

D. Qualifying criteria

The US company must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company for it to petition for L-1 visa transferees. The US or foreign company must file a petition to prove eligibility for an L-1 visa to work in the US Hence, companies operating in the US for at least one year may apply for an L-1 visa to transfer someone to the US from its overseas operations. If the US 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 US 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 US 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.

How to Contact Us:

Contact the experienced immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA 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. If you own a foreign company, and you wish to transfer yourself or an employee of yours, contact us to advise you on the best course of action. Our experienced lawyers will immediately review your organizational structure and the credentials of your intra-company transferees to determine whether or not you are eligible to sponsor those individuals for the L-1 visa. The competent attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates are experienced in preparing L-1 visa applications. Contact us for a consultation.

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