Are you looking to transfer an employee to a US branch, affiliate or subsidiary office?
The L1 visa enables multinational companies to expand operations by transferring qualified staff to a newly-established or existing United States subsidiary, affiliate, parent or branch office.
Before an employee can apply to obtain an L1 visa, it will be necessary for the employer 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.
Where a qualifying global company has need for multiple foreign nationals in L1 status, they may wish to file a ‘Blanket L’ petition with USCIS. This will act as continuing evidence of a company’s qualifying relationship and will facilitate the quicker transfer of qualifying employees.
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 companies seek to avoid through professional legal advice.
NNU Immigration are here to help!
NNU Immigration are specialists across all classes of US visa, including the L1 visa.
We advise and support employers and employees through the entire L1 visa application process.
With exceptional knowledge and insight into US visa application protocol, we advise non-US nationals on available visa options, such as the L1 visa, and support with submitting applications to the relevant US authorities.
US immigration policy is undergoing a period of considerable upheaval; we can advise on the prevailing impact of any changes in US visa rules that may impact the entry routes available to you.
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L1 Visa FAQs
What are the L-1A and L-1B classifications?
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.
What are the eligibility criteria for L1 transferees?
An employee may be eligible for an L-1 visa if they meet the following requirements:
- the employee is required to fill an ‘executive, managerial or specialized knowledge role’ in the US; and
- the employee has been employed abroad by the same company, or a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary thereof, in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge role for one of the last three years.
Each of the roles must meet specific conditions of assignment for within the organization:
Executive role (L-1A classification):
- 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.
Managerial role (L-1A classification):
- 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;
- Has the authority to hire and hire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions, or if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy; and
- Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.
Specialized knowledge role (L-1B classification):
- Special knowledge is 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
- Advanced knowledge is possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s processes and procedures.
What needs to be included in the L1 petition?
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:
- evidence that the petitioner and the organization which employed you or will employ you are qualifying organizations;
- evidence that the employee will be employed in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity;
- evidence that the employee will have one continuous year of full-time employment abroad with a qualifying organization within three years preceding the filing of the petition;
- evidence that the employee’s prior year of employment abroad was in a position that was managerial, executive, or involved specialized knowledge; and
- evidence that the employee’s prior education, training and employment qualifies him or her to perform the intended services in the United States.
Additional evidence when opening a new US branch:
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:
- sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured;
- the employee has been employed for one continuous year in the three year preceding the filing of the petition in an executive or managerial capacity and that the proposed employment involves executive or managerial authority over the new operation; and
- the intended US operation, within one year of the approval of the petition will support an executive or managerial position.
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:
- sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured;
- the business entity in the United States is or will be a qualifying organization; and
- the company filing the petition has the financial ability to remunerate the employee and commence doing business in the United States.
Can dependents apply to join the main L1 visa applicant?
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. Once in the United States in L2 status, spouses may apply for employment authorization which will allow him/her to legally work in the United States for any employer.
What happens at the L1 visa interview?
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.
What is the adjudication process for the L1 visa?
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.
Is the L1 visa suitable for permanent or temporary transfers?
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.
How do I renew an L1 visa?
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.
What are the eligibility requirements for a company L1 Blanket petition?
To be eligible for a blanket petition a company must meet the following requirements:
- the filing company and its related companies must be engaged in commercial trade or services;
- the filing company must have an office in the US that has been doing business for one year or more;
- the filing company must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
- the filing company and the other qualifying organizations must have obtained at least ten L-1 petition approvals during the previous twelve months; or have US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a US workforce of at least 1,000 employees.
What is the application process for a company L1 Blanket petition?
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:
- evidence that the filing company meets the aforementioned eligibility requirements; and
- evidence that the filing company and the organizations included it is petition are qualifying organizations.
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.