What’s an L-1B Visa?

An L-1B visa is a specific subset of intracompany transfer visas.  They are intended primarily for the purpose of transferring to a U.S. branch of an overseas company operating in the applicant’s home country. 

Intracompany transfer immigration laws generally allow the person to transfer within their company; if a branch does not exist in the U.S., the L-1 visa category can also allow the company to open a new branch in the U.S.

To be eligible for an L-1B Visa, the worker must possess the following general attributes:

  • They have an existing, working relationship with their qualifying organization overseas;
  • They will be doing business as a worker with specialized knowledge in the U.S., in a branch of the qualifying business organization

What Does “Specialized Knowledge” Mean?

For the purposes of an L-1B Intracompany Transfer visa application, the term “Specialized knowledge” means that the employee possesses special knowledge regarding the company’s:

  • Products
  • Services
  • Research
  • Management
  • Techniques or equipment
  • Other interests and applications within its international field

Also, the term “specialized knowledge” can refer to an advanced degree of expertise or knowledge in terms of the inner workings of the company or organization.  Thus, the employer doesn’t necessarily have to demonstrate an ability to supervise or manage other workers; such roles are covered by other visas, namely the L-1A visa for Executives or Managers.

Instead, it is sufficient if the L-1B applicant possess a very technical or specialized knowledge of the company’s products or services offered.

What if the Worker Will Be Stationed at a Different Worksite?

In some cases, it is acceptable if the L-1B visa holder is not actually working directly at a worksite owned by the qualifying parent company.  For example, they may be stationed at a location operated by an unaffiliated company.  However, the parent company needs to demonstrate that:

  • The L-1B visa employer won’t be supervised or controlled principally by the unaffiliated employer; and
  • The work that is being performed by the employee will not be counted as “labor for hire” by the unaffiliated company.

These provisions are mainly covered by the L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004, and apply to petitions filed on or after 06/06/2005.

Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Need Assistance With an L-1B Visa?

L-1B intracompany transfer visas are only reserved for workers possessing specialized knowledge.  If you or a colleague of yours needs assistance with an L-1B visa, you may wish to contact an experienced immigration lawyer in your area for advice.  Your attorney can help advise you of your legal options, and can also represent you in court if you need to make an appearance before a judge for an interview.