photoa3_l1visaThe L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows companies operating both in the U.S. and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to the U.S. operations for up to seven years. The US office must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company outside of the U.S. for at least one year out of the last three years.

What Type of Employees can be Sponsored for L-1 Visas?

There are two types of employees who can be sponsored for L-1 visas:

Managers/Executives

The legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L-1A visa, initially for a three-year period that can be extended to a maximum of seven years.

Specialized Knowledge Staff

This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Workers in this category are issued an L-1B visa, initially for three years, which can be extended to a maximum of five years.

On completing the maximum allowable period in L-1 status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.

What are the Advantages of an L-1 Visa?

The visa holder:

  • Is permitted to travel in and out of the U.S. or remain here continuously until the L-1 status expires.
  • Can apply for visas of accompanying relatives.
  • Can apply for a Green Card through employment and skip a major step of that process (no Labor Certification requirements).

What are the Limitations of an L-1 Visa?

The visa holder can only work for the U.S. employer who acted as the L-1 visa sponsor.

What is the Difference between an L-1A Visa and an L-1B Visa?

  • The L-1A visa is for managers and executives. The L-1A visa holder can apply for a Green Card without going through the process of Labor Certification.
  • The L-1B visa is for key employees (accountants, computer programmers, etc). with specialized knowledge of the company's products or procedures