L-1 Visa

Transferring a Foreign Worker to the Unites States

ImmigrateThe L-1 Visa can be used to transfer an existing foreign employee or owner to a branch, subsidiary or affiliate company in the United States. With the L-1 Visa it doesn’t matter in which foreign country your company is located.

L-1 visas are one of the more difficult nonimmigrant visas to apply for without professional help. In most cases it is advisable to seek the help of an immigration lawyer. We can assist you whether wherever you live in the United States or any country around the world. All documents and filings can be made by overnight delivery, fax and email. No need to make an appointment. Call us at:

Qualifying L-1 Visa Employees

Can any employee be transferred to the U.S. branch, subsidiary or affiliate company?

No, there are some restrictions with the L-1 Visa. First of all the person to be transferred to the US company must have been employed for at least one year of the past three years. He or she must serve in a managerial or executive capacity or in a position that requires specialized knowledge. And, yes, you can qualify if you are the owner of the company.

What is meant by Executive, Manager or Specialized Knowledge—and how do I qualify?

The first thing you need to know is that a first line supervisor will not qualify for an L-1 Visa. On the other hand, he or she need not be the CEO either—but the position must have been one in which has real executive or managerial function (or specialized knowledge). Lets take a look at what the government say’s these terms mean:

Executives and the L-1 Visa

Executive capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;

Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;

Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and

Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.
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Managers and the L-1 Visa

Managerial capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;

Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;

Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) if another employee or other employees are directly supervised; if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and

Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.

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Specialized Knowledge

Specialized knowledge means special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

How long can you say in the U.S with an L-1 Visa?

Managers and Executives can stay for up to seven years while transferees with specialized knowledge can stay for only 5 years—but it is possible to change categories from “specialized knowledge employee to executive or manager class and extend your overall time from 5 to 7 years. Generally the first time the L-1 visa is granted is for a period of one year or less. You will then have to demonstrate that your U.S. business is still viable and on track. If the government is satisfied it will grant a 3 year period (renewable up to 5 or 7 years).

Can my spouse work if she or he comes to the United States with me?

Yes, your spouse can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), that is, a work permit card to work in the U.S. This is made possible by a 2002 change in the law permitting L-2 spouse to work with an EAD. We can apply for the EAD card for your spouse if they wish to work while you’re in L-1 status.

Can I apply for an L-1 Visa while I’m here on a B-1 Visa?

Yes.

Can I apply for a Green Card after I obtain my L-1 Visa?

Yes, however you must be able to demonstrate at the time you file for the L-1 that your intention is to return to your home country at some point. Still, once you are issued the L-1 you are permitted to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. , that is, a Green Card.

Note that if you are in L-1A status, that is, an executive or managerial class, you will likely be eligible to apply for a green card as an EB1 applicant—that means no labor certification—and that saves you time!

Qualifying L-1 Visa Companies

In which type of business must the U.S company be engaged?

It is not necessary for the company to be involved in international trade or any form of import-export (but it can be). Virtually any type of business will qualify and, as we said earlier, the parent company need not be a treaty country as is the case with the E1 and E-2 Visas. Also, neither the foreign parent company nor the U.S. company needs to be a corporation.

The company does not need to be a formal corporation, right?

Yes, but let’s take a quick look at what the government says so you’ll be sure to understand the rules. Remember when we said earlier that the U.S, company needs to be a branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the foreign parent company? Well here are the government’s L-1 Visa definitions of those terms:

“Parent” means a firm, corporation, or other legal entity which has subsidiaries.

“Branch” means an operating division or office of the same organization housed in a different location.

“Subsidiary” means a firm, corporation, or other legal entity of which a parent owns, directly or indirectly, more than half of the entity and controls the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, half of the entity and controls the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, 50 percent of a 50-50 joint venture and has equal control and veto power over the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, less than half of the entity, but in fact controls the entity.

“Affiliate” One of two subsidiaries both of which are owned and controlled by the same parent or individual, or

One of two legal entities owned and controlled by the same group of individuals, each individual owning and controlling approximately the same share or proportion of each entity.

What about the L-1 Visa Controlling Interest requirement:

One of two legal entities owned and controlled by the same group of individuals, each individual owning and controlling approximately the same share or proportion of each entity.

This simply means that the parent company (or you) must have control (or a controlling interest) in the U.S. business.

Can the foreign company close down after the L-1 Visa is obtained?

No, the foreign parent company must continue to operate abroad.

Need help with preparing and filing your L-1 Visa or just want to be sure it’s right for you? Why not give us a call. Our Law firm practices Immigration Law Only. We can assist you whether wherever you live in the United States or any country around the world. All documents and filings can be made by overnight delivery, fax and email. No need to make an appointment.
If you live in Florida, we have a Bradenton FL Immigration Lawyers office and an Naples FL Immigration Lawyers Office.
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