L-1 Visa Transfer to the US
L-1 Visa for Intra-Company Transfers
L-1 visas are potentially open to employees of companies based in any country and of any size – whether a small start-up or global corporation, your company can apply to transfer eligible employees to qualifying entities in the USA.
There is no cap to the number of L-1 visas that can be granted, meaning your prospects of making a successful application really are based on your ability to satisfy eligibility and providing a comprehensive petition.
There are two types of visa under the L-1 classification; the L-1A visa and L-1B visa. Each carry different eligibility criteria, requirements and restrictions.
The L-1A visa is for employees or business owners who will enter management or executive positions when they transfer to the US. The L-1A visa gives its holder the right to work in the USA for up to seven years, provided they continue to work for the same company, or a qualifying related company, in a position that continues to satisfy the visa criteria.
The L-1B visa is aimed at employees transferring to a related US based company because they have specialised knowledge or skills which are beneficial to the development of the branch or subsidiary they are moving to.
The L-1B visa gives its holder the right to work in the USA for up to five years provided they continue to work for the company or a related company and meet the visa criteria.
L-1 visa application process:
The L-1 visa process requires input from both the applicant and the employer.
With Premium Processing USCIS adjudicates the case in 15 calendar days.
Firstly, a potential applicant must have a transfer offer for a qualifying role.
Your employer must have a branch, affiliate, subsidiary or parent company located in the USA that offers you a position that is managerial, executive, or sufficiently specialised.
Once you have received an eligible job offer, you can begin your application. The initial application consists of filing an I-129 form. Your form I-129 can be filed either through an individual petition or under an L-1 blanket petition.
If your application is being filed under an individual petition then your employer will need to file a petition for you as an individual transfer. This consists of filing Form I-129 “Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker” as well as an additional L Supplement to the U.S Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS will have to approve the petition before the employee can begin their application. You will know the petition has been improved when your employer receives a Form I-797.
Individual petition applications will ordinarily take longer to process than blanket petition applications. If your application is being filed under a blanket position, whereby your employer can transfer multiple employees to the US on L-1 visas, your employer will need to file a Form I-129S “Non-immigrant Petition Based on L-1 Blanket Petition” with the USCIS.
Employees are not able to begin their applications until the petition has been approved. You will know this petition has been approved when your employer receives a Form I-797 which can be used by employees to apply for their intracompany transfer to the USA. Blanket petitions are only valid for 3 years but can be renewed and extended indefinitely. If your employer allows the blanket petition to expire, they will need to wait 3 years before they can file another blanket petition but will be able to file individual petitions in the interim.
The next steps apply whether you are applying under an individual or blanket petition.
Applicants must first file Form DS-160. A 5X5cm photograph of yourself which meets the US passport criteria will need to be uploaded as part of the form. When completed, you will be redirected to a confirmation page which must be printed off and kept.
You will then need to pay your application fee online and schedule your interview. You will receive confirmation of both your payment and your interview date which must be printed. You should also receive a visa interview appointment letter via email.
Prior to your interview you will need to gather the following documents as evidence for your application:
- The printed confirmation page and code from your DS-160 application
- The printed receipt for your paid fees
- The letter confirming your visa interview appointment
- Your passport, which must be valid for at least 6 months past the end date of your visa
- A 5×5 cm photograph meeting the USA passport criteria
- Copies of the forms completed and received by your employer: either 1 copy of both Form I-129 and Form 1-797 for individual applicants, or 2 copies of Form I-129S and 3 copies of Form I-797 for blanket petitions
- A letter from your employer confirming your job transfer and describing your new U.S position
- Employer organizational chart
- Printed evidence of your employment by the company for at least 1 of the last 3 years such as payroll records, worker’s last annual tax returns (if applicable), tax withholding statements
- The contact details of at least 2 co-workers in both your current and previous jobs
- University degree certificates
- A printed copy of your CV
- Your degree certificate(s)
- Employee organization chart
The visa interview follows the receipt of the USCIS approval notice.
It will take place at a US Embassy or Consulate local to you. At the interview you will be asked to submit your evidence and an official from the U.S Embassy will ask you questions to determine your reasons and intentions for travelling to the US
The interview aims to confirm whether the transfer is genuine and that you will work as intended in the USA. If your interview and application is successful, your visa will go on to be processed and your passport will be taken for visa processing and returned by courier when complete.
L-1 visa processing times
L-1 visas are generally processed in an average of 3-4 months. With premium processing, USCIS adjudicates the case in 15 calendar days
L-1 visa fees
There are certain fees which your employer must pay in order for you to be able to submit an application for intracompany transfer. The fees required are:
- A filing fee for Form I-129
- A Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee
- The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act 1998 (ACWIA) fee for employers of under 25 employees
- The Fee for Employers with over 50 employees in the USA on L-1 or H1B visas
- An optional premium processing fee
Fees are subject to change, and it is advisable to check the prevailing costs when making your application.
Do you have a question about the L-1 visa? NNU Immigration can help!
Evidencing that you qualify for the L-1 visa can be challenging on applicants, requiring experience into what US authorities are looking for in successful applications.
NNU Immigration’s dedicated immigration attorneys can support you in determining whether the L-1 visa is the best option for your circumstances, and for guidance through the petition process. If you have a question about the L-1 visa, please contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.