An L-1 visa is a temporary visa permitting foreign nationals who work for a company with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the United States to come to the United States as an intracompany transferee or to open an office in the United States. The L-1 visa is open to both large and small companies. There are no limits as to the number of L-1 visas the U.S. will grant annually.
Who May Apply for an L-1 Visa?
U.S. or foreign employers must submit the application, supporting documentation and filing fee. Once the application is approved, the employee applies for the visa.
Some Requirements for an L-1 Visa
To obtain an L-1 visa you must show that:
- You are coming temporarily to perform your services in a:
- managerial or executive capacity (L-1A); or
- capacity entailing specialized knowledge (L-1B)
- You have worked with the employer on a full time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three year period
- The U.S. and foreign companies must have common ownership
If the purpose of the visa holder is to open a new office, additional documentation is required, such as proof that a location to house the business is secured.
How Is an L-1 Different from an H-1B?
- You are not required to obtain labor certification
- There is no compensation level that must be met
How Long is the L-1 Valid?
Generally, an L-1 is valid for 3 to 7 years. If the L-1 is being used to open a new office, the visa will be issued for 1 year.
May I Bring my Spouse and Children to the Untied States?
Spouses of L-1 holders and their children under the age of 21 are entitled to L-2 status, but may not use the L-2 to work.
May I Apply for a Green Card?
As long as the U.S. business has been operating for at least one year, an L-1 holder may apply for a green card.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Immigration law is very complicated and changes every year. By speaking with an immigration attorney you can determine if you and your company meet the requirements for an L-1 visa. An immigration lawyer can also advise you on which documents are required for each application.