The primary purpose of an L-1 visa, or L1 - Intra-Company Visa, is to allow managers and executives or specialized knowledge employees who work for a foreign company to transfer to a related US company parent, subsidiary or branch of the foreign company. The manager or executive may come to work for an existing company or alternatively set up a new office. There is also the possibility for large companies to apply for a blanket L-1 visa, which allows them to frequently transfer employees by giving them permission to do so, without having to apply for each individual employee.
Generally, the L-1 visa has two sub-categories:
The general L-1 visa requirements are as follows:
Parent Company: A firm, corporation or other legal entity that has controlling ownership in other companies, which are called subsidiaries. For example, a foreign parent company owns at least 50% of a US company, and has control over the entity. Another example would be if a US parent company owns at least 50% of the foreign company and has control over the entity. Finally, the U.S. and foreign companies can each be owned at least 50% by the same parent company.
Subsidiary: A firm, corporation or other legal entity that is directly or indirectly owned by another legal entity, a parent company. A parent-subsidiary relationship exists when: 1) the parent owns at least 50% and controls the entity or 2) owns 50% in a joint venture with one other company where they have equal control or 3) owns less than 50% of the entity but in fact controls the entity.
Branch: A branch for this purpose is an office or operating division within the same business organization but located in another country. A branch is not a legal entity, and thus would not require the registration of a company. However, the foreign entity would have to register with the State where the branch is located as doing business through the branch office.
Affiliate: One of two subsidiaries owned and controlled by the same parent company or by the same individual or group of individuals. When a group of individuals owns the entities, they are considered affiliates if, within the group, each person owns and controls approximately the same share proportion of each entity.
Upon approval, the L1 visa applicant will be granted an authorization of stay valid for a period of up to three years (one for new offices). The foreign national can be granted extensions up to a maximum of seven years in total.
The dependents of the L1 visa holder (spouse and unmarried children under 21) will usually be granted visas of the same length.
The L1 Visa process may come in on or two steps, depending on the location of the applicant and travel plans.
The employer will have to file a Petition for Non-immigrant worker on behalf of the employee with USCIS which can also include a request for change or extension of status if the foreign individual decides to do so. If the individual is located abroad, then, the employer will request the approval of the petition only with a request of notification of approval to the U.S. Consulate of choice where the individual will apply for the L1 visa.
Managerial capacity generally means that the employee manages the organization, takes control of other supervisors, or manages some form of function, and (or) has the authority to "hire and fire." Executive role is that the employee generally oversees the management of the company, has vast latitude of management in the company and (or) sets goals and targets for the company.
Whether the employee’s position is qualifiable as executive or managerial will widely dependent on the overall existing hierarchy of the foreign organization, the number of employees supervised, their managerial functions, their duties, and the employee’s description of job duties. USCIS will assess how much time the employee spends on managerial/executive duties versus basic tasks that cannot be qualified as such.
Finally, having a specialized knowledge means that the employee has an advanced level of knowledge in his particular field and is reasonably qualified in his particular area of expertise. A specialized knowledge employee must show a level of knowledge of the company’s product, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
The terms, conditions and application for this type of visa can be tedious and complicated. To ensure your application is correctly completed, we strongly advise you to talk to an experienced L1 Visa Attorney. Suzanne E. Vazquez and Maud Poudat are both certified as experts in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Florida Bar and have helped many businesses and executives from around the world to successfully apply for L1 Visas. We will make sure every aspect is being considered to get the visa application approved and to maximize your chances of getting it successfully renewed.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for a more detailed description of what exactly the related terms cover or for more general information on this type of visa. You may also call us at (407) 674-6968 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you promptly.
Finally, in an effort to help you obtain all the information you need, we have compiled the most common questions we get from clients - please feel free to visit our L-1 visa FAQ's for further information.