Los Angeles L-1 Work Visa Lawyer
L-1 Visas for High Level Workers
L-1 Intracompany Transferee
Many foreign companies looking to expand their company globally open an office in the U.S. It makes sense that these companies look to current employees in the foreign country to assist with the development of a branch or office in the U.S. Certain employees of these foreign companies may qualify for an L-1 visa also know as an Intracompany Transferee visa. The L-1 visa has two main categories: L-1A for intracompany employees who are executives or managers or L-1B for intracompany employees who have specialized knowledge. For both of these categories, the employee must have been employed abroad by the employer sponsor in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity. The employment must have been for at least one continuous year within the last three years immediately before entering the U.S. and filing the L-1 visa petition. Upon approval of the L-1 application, an L-1A and L-1B visa is granted for up to three years. L-1A visas are eligible for extensions in up to two year increments for a maximum of seven consecutive years. L-1B visas can be granted for a maximum of five consecutive years.
The L-1 visa does not require a labor certification process and there is not an annual limit on the number of L-1 visas that can be approved. These are just some of the many advantages an L-1 visa provides for both the transferee employee and the sponsor company.
Eligibility for L-1 Visa
L-1 visa employers and employees must meet specific requirements to be eligible for this type of visa. An L-1 applicant may be employed in the U.S. in any one of the allowable categories but not necessarily in the same capacity in which he or she was employed abroad. Additionally, the L-1 visa recipient must intend to depart the U.S. upon completion of his or her authorized stay. The requirements are thoroughly outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(l). Below is a brief summary of the general requirements:
- L-1 Employer
- L-1A Employee - Executive or Manager
- L-1B Employee - Specialized Knowledge
The L-1 Employer sponsor is not required to be a U.S. company, however, the company must be a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary which is or will be "doing business" as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country. The company can be a corporation or other legal entity such as a non-profit organization. Per 8 CFR 214.2(l)(ii)(H), “doing business” means actively providing goods and services and not merely having an agent or office in the U.S.
The employee must be coming to work in the U.S. office in the capacity of a manager or executive. This means that the employee with a manager position must be providing services that entail managing the organization, or a department, subdivision, component, or key function of the organization. If qualifying as a manager of personnel, the employee must supervise other professional employees. Additionally an employee acting as a manager or executive must have the authority to hire and fire other employees.
An employee with an executive position is one whose direct superiors are higher executives, members of the board of directors or shareholders of the company. An executive employee commonly controls a major component or function of the organization. Furthermore an executive employee assists with establishing goals and policies and has the authority to make decisions to aid in the success and development of the company.
An L-1B employee must possess special knowledge or advanced knowledge or both:
- Special knowledge: knowledge of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets that is distinct or uncommon in comparison to that generally found in the particular industry; or
- Advanced knowledge: knowledge of or expertise in the petitioning organization’s specific processes and procedures that is not commonly found in the relevant industry and is greatly developed or further along in progress, complexity and understanding than that generally found within the employer.
On August 15, 2015, USCIS released a policy memorandum (L-1B Adjudications Policy) providing helpful guidance including examples of useful evidence to prove the employee possesses special or advanced knowledge. One notable piece of advice provided in this memorandum is to provide Curricula and training manuals for internal training courses, financial documents, or other evidence that may demonstrate that the beneficiary possesses knowledge of a product or process that cannot be transferred or taught to another individual without significant economic cost or inconvenience;
Additional Tips for Prospective L-1 Visa Applicants and Employers
Because an employer is not required to undergo the labor certification process, some requirements are easier meet. However, if the employer is not a well-known or well-established company, it is imperative that additional and more detailed evidence be submitted with the visa application. Sponsor employers should also note that, where a company has been doing business in the U.S. for less than a year, it is considered a “new office” and the application should include the following:
- A copy of a business plan or executive summary that shows the size of the U.S. investment and your ability to commence doing business in the U.S.
- evidence showing that a physical office has been secured and that, this office is sufficient to meet the needs of developing the business.
For a “new office” an L-1 visa will only be initially approved for one year. A renewal can be requested if the employer demonstrates that after one year, the office is sufficiently active to support a manager or executive.
Spouses and children of an L-1 visa recipient are provided with L-2 visa classification. Individuals with L-2 visas are admitted to the U.S., for the same amount of time and under the same conditions as the L-1 recipient. A spouse of an L-1 employee is eligible for an Employment Authorization Card (work permit), however, a child does not qualify for this benefit.
Lastly, one other advantage for a recipient of an L-1 visa is that, it is permissible to pursue an application for lawful permanent resident status through another employment or family based category.
How we can help
Our office will provide you with an individualized assessment of the employee and employer’s qualifications to determine what visa is the best fit for your particular situation. Because of our many years of experience with these types of cases, our firm is confident that we can guide you and effectively represent you with filing an approvable L-1 visa application. Our office ensures that our clients’ applications are in line with USCIS’s most recent requirements, policy memos and regulations. When you work with our office, we make certain that we provide you with detailed responses to all of your questions and concerns. We will maintain constant communication with you and provide you with the care and professionalism your case deserves.