The L-1 visa (Intracompany Transferee Visa) category allows multinational companies to transfer certain employees from a qualified foreign office to the U.S. to continue employment. This is very useful for companies conducting business in both the United States and in foreign countries. The individual must have been employed in an executive or managerial position (L-1A), or in a specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B) for the foreign company.

A Manager is defined as an individual that manages a company or one of its core departments, personally supervises and controls the work of other professionals or manages an essential function of the organization, can hire and fire personnel or operates as a senior level, and exercises discretion over day-to-day functions of the business.

An Executive is defined as an individual that directs the management of the organization or one of its core functions, establishes goals and policies, exercises discretionary decision making, and receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, board of directors or stock holders.
An individual has “specialized knowledge” when that person possesses a heightened level of knowledge of the petitioning company’s products, services, equipment, techniques, or other interests or has an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the company’s processes and procedures.

Who is eligible?

To qualify for L-1 status, the foreign national must have been employed abroad by the foreign employer on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year during the last three-year period. Typically, both the foreign and U.S. entities must have been operating for at least one full year prior to the time of application.

Both entities must be actively “doing business,” meaning that they both engage in regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services. Both companies should also have an established workforce and sufficient office space to conduct business.

How do I prove the existence of the foreign company?

This portion of the process is paper work intensive and thus justifies the use of an L1 Visa attorney. Below is a list of some recommended documents, which may be submitted by the foreign company to establish existence.

  1. Documents relating to the company ownership. This would include articles of incorporation, partnerships, or other documents showing the company structure and ownership.
  2. Evidence of licenses or permits issued by the local government or other entities that govern the company’s operations.
  3. Documents that indicate that the company exists at a specific location. This can be shown by the existence of monthly office or warehouse lease payments, ownership deeds, and other ongoing invoices/receipts showing active business.
  4. Financial documents such as bank statements, profit and loss statements, and inventory lists.
  5. Evidence of ongoing business activity. This may include sales figures, advertising expenses, company printed literature and brochures, and letterheads.
  6. Evidence of employee structure with names and positions and copy of employment agreements used for hiring. It is necessary to establish that the company does have employees when seeking a L-1 visa approval.

Can I qualify for an L-1 Visa by starting a new office?

In this case, the petitioner must establish that a U.S. entity has been incorporated, that sufficient physical space has been obtained to conduct business in the U.S., and that the foreign entity is able to commence doing business in the U.S.

There is no “doing business” requirement for New Office L-1 petitions. In lieu of this requirement, the government will grant L-1 status to the applicant for a period of one year. During this time, the petitioning entity must commence business in the U.S. If successful, the company can submit subsequent petitions to extend the applicant’s L-1 status in three-year increments.

NOTE: New Office L-1 require diligence on the part of the business owner to meet guidelines proposed in the business plan in order to establish that the business is sufficiently viable to warrant an extension.

Dependents of L-1 beneficiaries

The spouse and dependent minors of an L1 beneficiary may receive an L2 visa. The spouse of an L1 beneficiary may, upon arrival in the US, also apply for employment authorization.

Will my L-1 Visa lead to a green card?

Potentially, yes! L-1 foreign nationals who are managers and executives under the L-1 program are eligible for the “priority workers” Employment Based Immigrant Visa category. Foreign citizens falling into this category may apply for their green card without having to go through the complex labor certification process required with most other employment based green card applications.

Our L-1 visa attorneys are experienced in working with start-up companies to receive an L1 visa for foreign-based employees. In many cases, our L1 visa lawyers have helped our business clients use an L1 visa to transfer employees when an H-1B visa was not available.

Contact our employment-based immigration attorneys today!


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