US L1a Visa Requirements for UK Employees

US L1a visa requirements for transferring UK Employees

UK senior employees being transferred within a company to work in the US on a temporary basis will generally look at the L1a visa. The US L1a visa requirements aren’t, however, always straightforward. The US L1a visa allows non-US national employees, including British citizens, who are in a managerial or executive position to be transferred to the USA for the same employer in a parent, sister, associate, subsidiary or branch of the UK-based company. It is the primary visa option for intracompany transfers of senior-level employees to the US.The L1a visa is not only open to multinational companies – smaller businesses and start-ups are increasingly making use of the L1 visa to expand into the US market.

Do you have a query about the US L1a visa requirements?>>

US L1a visa requirements: Purpose of transfer

The L1a visa may be applied for if a US employer wishes to move an employee into a managerial position at an affiliate office in the US.

Employers may also use the L1a visa for an employee in a managerial position to establish a new branch, subsidiary or affiliate office in the US. In this instance the L1a visa will be granted for one year with the option of extending the visa. A foreign employer setting up a new office must be able to show that sufficient premises have been secured for the company.

An L1a visa holder may split their time between the US office and other international branch’s.

An employee who is just visiting the US for meetings, conferences or training is not eligible for an L1a visa.

US L1a visa requirements: Applicant eligibility

To qualify for an L1a visa, you must be employed as either a senior manager or an executive in your new role in the US and meet the strict guidelines to be considered a manager or executive. It is a closely-scrutinised area of eligibility as you must be able to prove that you are directly responsible for major decisions within the company and have employees to direct and supervise.

To qualify as a manager you must manage an organization or major department. You will need to supervise staff at a supervisory level. You will have the authority to ‘hire and fire’ employees. Essential functions of the organization will be your responsibility. Day to day functions will be under your control.

To qualify as an executive you will be someone who directs the management of the company. You will set the goals and policies of the organization. You will have the freedom to make discretionary decisions. There will be minimal direction from higher-level executives, board members and stock holders.

It is not necessary to be in full-time employment within the company to apply for the L1a visa, but you must be able to prove that a regular and large portion of time has been dedicated to the company. Likewise there is no pay restriction on applying for an L1a visa, however, lower salaries may cause some issues with evidencing seniority and responsibility of role.

US L1a visa requirements: Organization eligibility

The employer must be currently, or soon be, actively doing business as an employer in the US and other countries directly or through a qualifying organization. A qualifying organization may be a parent company, sister company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the company. They will also need to have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company.

US L1a visa requirements: Application process

The list of supporting documents is extensive, it is important to get it right as mistakes inevitably result in your applications being subject to delay or even refusal.

Both employer and employee will be required to input into the application.

The employer should complete Form I-129, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and pay the filing fees. This should be completed at least 45 days before your start date, but no more than 6 months.

Employers are to provide documents from the US company such as stock certificates, business lease, evidence of initial investment, tax returns, any employer quarterly reports, bank statements, audited accounts as well as contracts, invoices and a company letterhead, among others.

From the UK-based company they will need the business license, article of incorporation, all income tax for the last 3 years, audited accounts, information on employees with an organizational chart and position that the transferee holds, a company brochure, documents of all business transactions, bank statements and a company letter head with all information.

The list of documents required is extensive and it is important to get it right, so it is highly advisable to take advice.

Once this has been completed, the employer will need to complete Form I-197, Notice of Action showing the approval of Form I-129 granting the right to apply for an L1a visa.

The employee then uses the receipt number from the I-129 to complete the online Form DS-160.

US L1a visa requirements: Visa interview

Once the application has been submitted, the applicant will need to arrange and attend a visa interview.

At the interview, documents will need to be presented that evidence the transfer within the company, the applicant’s capability to conduct business in an executive position and verify the applicant’s identity. For example:

Passports including a valid one with a minimum 6 month validity from the date of the interview.

  • Latest resume
  • A copy of the L1 petition
  • Letter from the employer to consulate requesting the L1 visa on the applicant’s behalf
  • Salary and tax documents
  • Organizational chart
  • Reference letters
  • Description of duties
  • Two of the applicant photographs

US L1a visa requirements: L1 Blanket petitions

Organizations who need to transfer multiple employees or who have an ongoing need for intracompany transfers should consider the blanket L1 visa. The blanket visa will not guarantee the employee being granted L1a classification, but will provide the employer the ability to transfer eligible employees to the US quickly.

To qualify for a blanket petition, the organization must:

  • have a US-based office that has been doing business for at least one year
  • participate in commercial trade or services
  • have 3 or more domestic and foreign branches
  • have obtained at least 10 L1 approvals in the year prior to applying for the blanket petition
  • have US subsidiaries or affiliates in which the combined annual sales are a minimum of $25 million
  • or have 1,000 employees or more.

Benefits of the L1a visa

If granted an L1a visa, you may be able to take your spouse and children using an L1a dependent or L2 visa. Should your spouse wish to work in the US, they will need authorization from USCIS.

In most cases, a petitioner will be granted an initial 3 year visa. The L1a visa may be extended for up to 7 years, as long as the company continues to operate as a multinational organization during this period.

Entering the US on an L1a visa affords you the opportunity to apply for permanent residence in the US.

US L1a visa requirements – NNU can help!

As dedicated US immigration attorneys, NNU can help you and your business with L1 visa petitions and interview preparation.

We can assist you with all aspects of your application, from compiling supporting documents to dealing with the US immigration authorities.

If you have a question about the L1a visa USA, or any other US immigration related matter, please contact us for advice.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

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