What are L Visas?
L1 visas are temporary permits for travel and stay in the U.S. The L1 visa is also known as the company transfer visa.
The L1 visa allows foreign businesses to transfer their employees to subsidiaries, branches, sister companies, or parent companies located in the U.S. This includes non-profit companies, charities, and religious organizations. Citizens of foreign countries may apply for an L1 visa if they have continuously worked for the company in their native country for at least one year out of the last three years. There are two different types of L1 visas: L1A visas and L1B visas.
What is an L1A Visa?
The L1A visa is also known as the Intracompany Transferee Executive/Manager visa. The L1A visa was created to allow alien executives and managers to transfer to the U.S. for more than a few months to manage the business in the U.S. The key to the L1A is executive/manager.
What is an L1B Visa?
The L1B visa is also known as the Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge visa. The L1B visa was created to allow aliens with specialized knowledge to transfer to the U.S. for more than a few months to facilitate the business in the U.S. The key to the L1B is specialized knowledge.
What is an L1 Blanket Visa?
The L1 Blanket visa is also known as the L1 Blanket Petition Program. The L1 Blanket visa was created to allow large multinational corporations that frequently use L1 visas to receive one approval to transfer a specific number of employees to a U.S. company. The key to the L1 Blanket is one approval for many employees.
How long can I stay on an L1A Visa or L1B Visa?
L1A: An alien can remain in the U.S. on an L1A visa for an initial period of one (1) year for a new company in the U.S.; or or three (3) years for a U.S. company with more than one year in existence. However, an alien can request an extension of stay for periods of up to two (2) years each. There is a seven (7) year maximum stay, including extensions, for an L1A visa.
L1B: An alien can remain in the U.S. on an L1B visa for an initial period of three (3) years. However, an alien can request an extension of stay for periods of up to two (2) years each. There is a five (5) year maximum stay, including extensions, for an L1B visa.
On either an L1A or L1B visa, once the alien has stayed the maximum period (5 or 7 years), the alien must leave the U.S. for at least one (1) year and continue working for the foreign company in order to reapply for an L1 visa.
Why apply for an L1 Visa?
Small or start-up companies looking to expand business in the U.S. often use the L1 visa to transfer their qualified employees to the U.S. to ensure a successful operation. Managers and executives with knowledge of the foreign company’s needs, goals, and operations can transfer to the U.S. to set up a new branch or subsidiary of the parent company abroad.
Likewise, multinational corporations often use L1 visas to develop a new market in the U.S. The corporation can transfer its specialized employees to the U.S. to ensure that the corporation’s methods, systems, ideals, and goals are properly implemented. The corporation can also use the L1 visa to implement its personnel rotation policies, gain new ideas in new cultures, innovate, and enhance company reputation. Further, even if the foreign company does not yet have a U.S. office open, the company can send an executive or manager to the U.S under an L1A visa to establish a U.S. office, or the company can send an employee with specialized knowledge of the company’s products to help establish the U.S. office.
What are the requirements to apply for an L1 Visa?
To apply for an L1 visa, the alien’s foreign company and the U.S. destination company must be related, as through a sister-sister relationship, a parent-subsidiary relationship, or an affiliated employer.
L1 visas require that the employee “must dedicate a significant portion of time on a regular and systematic basis” to the company while in the U.S. Yet, the alien does not have to be working in the U.S. on this full-time basis, and can divide work between the U.S. and the foreign country. However, merely attending conferences and meetings, training, or conferring with officials does not qualify as regular and systematic work for the L-1 visa (apply for a B visa instead).
What is dual intent?
Dual intent means that the temporary visa holder can apply for a green card to become a permanent resident of the U.S. while on an L1 visa. This is one of the benefits of the L1 visa as opposed to other temporary nonimmigrant visas. The L1 visa allows for dual intent.
Any alien applying for an L1 visa should consult an immigration attorney before filing an application.
Miami International Attorneys, P.L.