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L-1 intra-company transfer visa

General

The L-1 visa is available to those who are working for a foreign business and currently have an office in the U.S., or who intend on opening an office in the U.S., and want to transfer a member of staff to the existing or pending U.S. entity.

Relationship Between Foreign and U.S. Company

The relationship between the foreign and U.S. entities may be that of branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner. Typically, one common person or business entity must own at least 50% of both the foreign and U.S. companies, although other qualifying ownership scenarios are possible. The two entities do not have to be in the same type of business. However, the foreign office must remain in operation while the L-1 visa is being used.

Previous Work Requirement

The L-1 beneficiary must have been working for the foreign company for at least one full year during the three years immediately prior to the application for an L-1 visa.

Types of L-1s

There are two types of L-1 visas:

1. The L-1A visa for Managers and Executives; and

2. The L-1B visa is for persons in the company with specialized knowledge, which is defined as knowledge of the company’s products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures.

Duration

The L-1A visa is initially approved for three years but can be extended for up to seven years. The L-1B visa can only be extended for up to five years. L-1 visas for new enterprises in the U.S. are initially granted for only one year and can then be extended.

Dual Intent

The L-1 is a “dual intent” visa. It is possible for holders of L-1A visas to apply for permanent residence as a Multinational Executive or Manager in the First Preference Category without going through the Labor Certification process. Holders of L-1B visas must normally apply for Labor Certification before qualifying for Permanent Residence.

L-1 Spouses may Work in the U.S.

The spouse of an L-1 visa holder may obtain work authorization.

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