The L1 visa allows multinational companies to transfer key personnel to the US to work in an existing subsidiary, affiliate, parent or branch, or to establish new US-based operations for the company.
Before an employee can apply to obtain an L1 visa, their employer has to file an L1 visa petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the employee. The petitioner may be a US company or a foreign company.
Global companies requiring multiple transfers to the US may qualify for the ‘Blanket L’ petition. The Blanket L acts as continuing evidence of a company’s qualifying relationship, facilitating a faster transfer of qualifying employees under the L1 category.
In both the case of the L1 visa and L1 Blanket visa, following receipt of the petition by USCIS, the employee will be invited to attend a visa interview at a US consular post outside the US.
Issues or errors at any stage in the application can result in delay or even application refusal, which can be disruptive to business plans and operations.
NNU Immigration are specialists across all classes of US visa, including the L1 visa.
With exceptional knowledge and insight into US visa application protocol, we advise on the use of the L1 route within organisations’ global talent mobility programs, from individual employee visa applications through to Blanket L petitions for companies to transfer multiple workers.
We also advise on the costs and processing times involved in making an L visa application.
Extensive supporting evidence is required as part of the L1 visa application. We provide specialist guidance on supporting documentation requirements to ensure your petition is comprehensive and compliant.
Contact our US immigration experts
For advice on any aspect of a US visa application, contact our US immigration attorneys.
There are more detailed requirements under the L-1A and L-1B classifications, specifying eligibility criteria and evidentiary requirements to be met in order to qualify for the L-1 visa.
An employee may be eligible for an L-1 visa if they meet the following requirements:
Each of the roles must meet specific conditions of assignment for within the organization:
The petition is to be used to submit evidence in support of your application for an L1 visa.
The following should be provided to demonstrate your eligibility for the L1 program:
If an employee will be coming to the US as an executive or manager to open or be employed in a new office in the United States, the company must submit evidence that:
If the employee will be coming to the US in a specialized knowledge capacity to open or to be employed in a new office, the petitioner must submit evidence that:
Spouses and children may apply for L2 visas which will allow them to reside with the employee in the United States.
Note that civil partnerships and ‘common law marriages’ do not fall within the definition of dependents and as such partners would not be eligible to apply for an L1 dependent visa.
Dependent visa applications may be made at the time of the interview, or by scheduling a separate interview at a US consular post following approval of the L1 visa application.
Whether following approval of a blanket or regular L1 petition, employees seeking L1 status must attend an interview at which time their eligibility for the visa category will be determined.
The employee will have to appear for a visa interview at a US consular post abroad. Interview procedures vary widely among consular posts so it is important to carefully follow instructions provided for the post where the L1 interview will be held.
At the L1 visa interview, a consular officer will ask the employee questions to confirm the information provided in the L1 petition about the applicant and his or her intended US employment. The employee will be notified of the decision made on the application at the end of the interview. Provided the application is approved the consular officer will retain the employee’s passport for visa stamping.
The passport with embossed L1 visa stamp will be returned to the employee within approximately one week of the interview. Once received the employee is permitted to travel to the US to work in L1 status in line with the employment described in the L1 petition.
You submit the completed petition to USCIS for adjudication, for both standard or blanket visas. If USCIS determine additional information or documentation is needed to make a decision, a request for additional information will be issued.
Requests will vary in length depending on the extent of information and documentation requested, but will inevitably result in a delay in a case decision. As such, it becomes critical through professional advice to ensure your application satisfies evidentiary requirements in the first instance.
Upon receipt of the requested information and documentation, USCIS will resume processing of the petition.
Processing times may vary depending on USCIS workload.
For an additional fee, you may request expedited ‘premium processing’ of a petition for adjudication by USCIS within 15 calendar days.
Note that if a request for additional evidence is issued on a petition filed using the premium processing service, USCIS will have an additional 15 calendar days from receipt of the response to adjudicate the case.
Permission under the L1 visa is temporary, for a maximum of 12 months. Extensions can be granted for up to a total of 7 years in 2-year increments.
If an employee is performing an executive or managerial role in the United States, they will be allowed to spend seven years in the US in L1 status before they have to return abroad for at least one year before being granted L-1 status again.
If an employee is performing a specialized knowledge role in the United States, they will be allowed to spend five years in the US in L1 status before they have to return abroad for at least one year before being granted L1 status again.
To be eligible for a blanket L petition, a company must meet the following requirements:
In order for your company to obtain a Blanket L1 approval, it will be necessary for the filing company to provide the following documentation to demonstrate eligibility:
The completed Blanket L-1 petition must then be submitted to USCIS for adjudication.
Upon approval of the Blanket L petition, qualified employees can then go straight to a consular post to apply for an L-1A or L-1B visa to work for the US office. An employer is not required to file an individual petition at USCIS prior to the visa interview for Blanket L visa applicants.