L-1 Intra-company Transferee
L-1 visa classification is available to foreign workers who work for multinational companies doing business in the U.S., and who wish to temporarily enter the U.S. to perform services either in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or services that require specialized knowledge (L-1B) for a U.S.-based parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same company that employed the foreign worker abroad.
L-1 classification requires that the employee have been employed abroad for the foreign corporation, firm, or other legal entity (or a foreign affiliate or subsidiary of a U.S.-based company) on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out of the previous three years (subject to reduced minimum requirements in cases of blanket petitions). In addition, the U.S. based-petitioner must demonstrate a qualifying relationship with the entity abroad, the proffered position must qualify as one of an executive or managerial nature or one that requires specialized knowledge, and the beneficiary must be shown to possess the qualifications for the qualifying position offered.
Additional petitioner eligibility requirements exist in cases where the U.S. work-site in question is new, including a showing: that sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured, that the new work-site will have a qualifying relationship to the foreign employer, and that the new work-site will be able to support the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition. (L-1A visas only).
This classification does require an approved petition for employment. Prior to the foreign worker applying for an L-1 visa, the U.S. employer must obtain petition approval from the US CIS. If the intra-company transferee is outside of the U.S., he or she must apply directly at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. (Please note: in some cases, the applicant must apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his or her home country. See the Visa Issuance section for more details.)
If the intra-company transferee is inside the U.S. and wishes to extend his or her L-1 Non-immigrant visa status, his or her authorized employer must apply for approval from the US CIS in connection with the underlying petition for employment.
High volume or high gross annual income employers who regularly file L-1Non-immigrant visa petitions may wish to consider filing for a blanket L petition. This simplifies the process of approving and admitting additional individual L-1A and L-1B workers.
Temporary intra-company transferees may be initially admitted to the U.S. in L-1 visa status for up to three years with the option to extend for a total of seven years (L-1A) or five years (L-1B) by filing a timely petition for extension of stay with the US CIS. As is the case with all Non-immigrant visa classifications, the duration for which one is allowed to remain in the U.S. in L-1 status is governed by the expiration date indicated on the most recently issued I-94 card, except in cases where a non-frivolous extension of stay request has been timely filed. (See How do I know if I am lawfully present in the U.S.? in the FAQ section for more details.)
L-1A and L-1B Non-immigrant status is an employer-specific work authorized status pursuant to the terms and conditions upon which L-1 status was granted.
A foreign national on this visa may be eligible to apply for permanent residency if his/her employer requires his/her services permanently. Please click here for information on employment immigration.
An L-1 Non-immigrant visa worker may simultaneously pursue permanent residency without negatively impacting his or her continued eligibility for L-1 Non-immigrant visa status. Accordingly, the filing of a labor certification application, I-140 immigrant visa petition or I-485 adjustment of status application is not a basis for denying a change of status to, extension of stay in, or visa for L-1 status. This protective concept is known as the "dual intent doctrine" and is recognized under immigration laws for several Non-immigrant visa classifications, including L-1.
The spouse and minor children of L-1 visa holders may apply for derivative L-2 visa classification in order to accompany or follow to join the principal visa holder (at the consulate). L-2 status is conditioned on maintenance of valid L-1 status by the principal visa holder and dependent eligibility, and unlike most dependent Non-immigrant visa classifications, L-2 is a work authorized visa classification. However, such work authorization is subject to restrictions and requires application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization to accept employment in the U.S.
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