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.