L-1 Intracompany Transferees
What is the L-1 visa?
The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, which allows a foreign company to relocate qualified employees to its U.S. subsidiary or affiliated entity. There are two types of the L-1 visa: L-1A visa for Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager and L-1B visa for Intracompany Transferee with Specialized Knowledge.
What are the requirements for the L-1 nonimmigrant visa or L-1 status?
Some of the requirements of the L-1 visa (or status) are:
- The U.S. employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (affiliate, branch, parent company, or subsidiary – called “qualifying organizations”).
- The individual must have worked for the qualifying foreign company for at least one of the three years preceding the time of submitting the petition.
- The U.S. company must currently or in the future be doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the entire duration of stay of the L-1 holder in the U.S. The business must be viable, but it is not required to be engaged in international trade.
- The person seeks to enter the U.S. temporarily.
- The employee’s position is managerial or executive (for L-1A status) or involves specialized knowledge (for L-1B status).
Do we have to be a large company in order to use the L-1 visa for our employees?
While it is easier to obtain this type of visa for employees of large multi-national companies, the L-1 visa can also be used by small foreign companies that want to expand their business into the United States. However, the Citizenship and Immigration Service will so closely inspect the submitted documents for compliance with all applicable requirements, that a consultation with an experienced immigration law attorney is strongly recommended for small businesses.
Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager – specifics of the L-1A visa
The L-1A is a temporary nonimmigrant visa, which is used by a U.S. employer to transfer a manager or an executive from one of its foreign offices or affiliates to one of its offices in the U.S. The L-1A classification also enables a foreign company that does not have an office in the United States to send a manager or an executive to the U.S. with the purpose of establishing an affiliated office here.
Family members of the L-1 nonimmigrant
Family members of the L-1 visa holder are entitled to enter the United States in the L-2 nonimmigrant category. Family members are admitted for the same period of time as the principal L-1 holder. Family members are:
- the spouse of the L-1 individual (spouses in the same-sex marriages are treated the same as in opposite-sex marriages), and
- minor unmarried children under the age of 21. When children get married or reach the age of 21, they are no longer eligible to remain in the U.S. in L-2 status.
Is the spouse of the L-1 holder allowed to work in the United States?
The spouse may apply for work authorization. To apply, the L-2 spouse needs to file a form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and pay a required fee for this form. The spouse cannot begin employment until the Employment Authorization document is received. When such document is received, the L-2 spouse may work for any employer. The employment authorization will be limited to the period stated on the Employment Authorization card (L-2 spouse will be authorized to accept employment for the period of admission and/or status of the L-1 spouse, not to exceed two years.)
Are family members of the L-1 nonimmigrant allowed to study in the U.S.?
Yes, L-2 family members of the L-1 principal are allowed to study in the United States while they are in L-2 status.