An L-1A visa is a specific type of non-immigrant visa reserved for persons who seek to stay in the U.S. temporarily for employment purposes.  Generally, L-1 visas are meant for foreign nationals who will be transferring from a company that maintains operations abroad to a local, U.S. branch of the same company.  Thus, the L-1A visa is also referred to as an “Intracompany Transfer Visa for Executives or Managers”.

What Does “Executive” and “Managerial” Capacity Mean?

Specifically, L-1A visas are reserved for employees or employers who have either “Executive” or “Managerial” capacity within their business organization.  For immigration law purposes, these terms have specific meanings:

  • “Executive capacity” means that the employee has the skill and ability to make company-related decisions of broad significance, without requiring much oversight from another worker
  • “Managerial capacity” refers to the worker’s ability to control and/or supervise the work of other employees and professionals in the company.  They may also require the skill to develop, institute, or oversee other departments or subdivisions within the company.  Generally speaking, “managerial capacity” can also imply that the worker has the ability to oversee essential functions of the business at a high level

Thus, L-1A visas are usually granted to persons such as supervisors, managers, administrators, department heads, and heads of ad hoc committees or boards.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for L-1A Visas?

Accordingly eligibility requirements for L-1A visas are somewhat stricter than other forms of non-immigrant employment visas.  To be eligible for an L-1 visa t he applicant must:

  • Possess a working relationship with the foreign sponsoring employment company (called the “qualifying organization”); and
  • Be doing business as an employer in the U.S. (either currently or in the near future) with the qualifying business

For visa application purposes, the term “doing business” can include the continuous or systematic provision of goods/services; it does not necessarily have to be international trade.

Also, the applicant should have been employed with the organization overseas for at least one full year within the last three years.

Can an L-1A Visa Be Used to Set-up a New Office Branch in the U.S.?

Yes- the company would need to show that the executive or manager will be sent to the U.S. for the purpose of establishing a new office.  They would need to prove that the employer has already secured the physical location for the new office, and that the employee being sent has been working with the company for at least one continuous year in the past 3 years.  Lastly, the new U.S. office branch must be able to support an executive/managerial position within a year of the petition being approved.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With an L-1A Visa?

The L-1A Intracompany Transfer Visa is a highly specific non-immigrant visa category; it has various eligibility requirements that must be met fully in order for an applicant to qualify.  If you, your company, or a loved one needs help with an L-1 visa, you may wish to hire a competent immigration lawyer in your area.  Your attorney can provide you with guidance and legal representation throughout the process.