Foreign companies that want to transfer management-level employees to the United States can do so through L-1 visas. This non-immigrant visa category facilitates entry into the country and the employment of qualified personnel in the companies.
It is also known by the name of intra-corporate transfer visa, precisely for the purpose of its creation. It also serves for foreign companies to open branches in the USA and their high-level personnel to be legally transferred.
Immigration lawyers in Los Angeles at Lluis Law are experts in all types of visas for the United States. We have over 50 years of combined experience assisting people in all types of immigration matters.
L-1 visa application process
To apply for an L1 visa, it is up to the employer to start the process. He must file an application on behalf of the employee with USCIS, using Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
After paying the fee and submitting the form, USCIS will evaluate the request. If you accept the request, you will notify the employer using Form I-797B (Notice of Action) that the request has been approved.
If it is a US company not yet established, you will need to demonstrate to USCIS that the creation process is well advanced.
After the application has been approved, the employee will be able to process this visa in his country of origin. The employee is notified through the embassy or consulate where they must present a copy of the notification.
This document must be presented during the interview along with the L-1 visa application and other requirements and evidence. The interview with a consular officer must be scheduled after submitting the L-1 visa application.
In case of traveling accompanied by your spouse and children you must submit an L2 visa application for them. One of the advantages of the L2 visa is that it allows spouses to legally work in the U.S. Children on the other hand can enroll and attend school.
L-1 visas are divided into two categories: L-1A visas and L-1B visas. Both visas correspond to two different types of employees.
What are L-1A visas
They are awarded to senior executives or managers who need to be transferred to a U.S. office. Such employees must meet the general eligibility conditions for the L-1 visa.
The L1-A visa is also granted to companies that do not yet have a US headquarters. Managers or executives can be transferred to help establish the new business.
How long is the L-1A visa valid for?
When it is a new company looking to establish its offices in the USA, a period of one year is initially granted. If it is a company with more than a year of being created, the initial period is three years.
This visa offers the possibility of being extended for another two renewable years. The total duration of this visa cannot exceed seven years.
It is delivered to employees with specialized knowledge in any area of the company or organization. For example, an industrial engineer specializing in product design who performs project management and supervision activities.
This type of high-level employees can be transferred to the plant of the foreign company in the USA. They are employees capable of directing production processes or training company personnel on a product line.
The L1-B visa also serves so that the professional helps the company to establish an office in the USA. This in case the company does not have a branch in the country already.
Some of the professionals applying for L-1B visas are:
- Doctors seeking to be transferred within the labor organization (hospital or clinic in the USA).
- University professors, engineers and lawyers, among others.
How long is the L-1B visa valid for?
For workers from established companies the initial period the vista will last for is three years. It can also be extended for another two years only once. The total permanence allowed for the beneficiary is five years.
In both cases (L-1A and L-1B visa), the holder must leave the United States when the visa expires permanently. Unless he wants to apply for an immigrant visa through a consular process and adjustment of status.
Requirements for L-1 visas
Any high-level worker seeking to be transferred within the company to the US can apply for this visa. In the same way that any organization (even non-profit) can apply for their foreign executive employees L-1 visas.
To apply for the L1 visa, certain application conditions must be met. The requirements for L-1 visas eligibility are as follows:
- The employee must have worked at least one of the last three years for the foreign subsidiary or branch company. This work activity must have been continuous.
- You must also intend to be an executive or manager of a company of the same employer. Highly specialized employees also qualify for this visa.
- In his capacity as manager, he must direct personnel within the organizational structure of the company that employs him. Unless being an employee with specialized knowledge.
- The L-1 visa holder must be a full-time employee of the company. This does not mean that you also have to work full time in the United States.
- The company or office established in the United States must be a parent, subsidiary, or branch of the foreign company.
- The foreign company and the United States subsidiary entity must have a qualified corporate relationship. That is, you operate a branch, have formed a subsidiary, or have a joint venture in the U.S.
- The foreign company must also have 51% of the shares of the US company. In other words, control of the company.
- While the employee is working in the US, the foreign company must continue to operate. At least, until you obtain the Green Card or permanent residence, if applicable.
- L-1 visas can also be applied for by multinational companies.
If you need to process L-1 visas, you can call us and we will help you manage it. If you have questions related to the topic, we can offer you answers. Book a free consultation right now.
Eligibility for general L-1 visa petitions
When companies believe they will need to transfer more than one employee to the United States, they can file a general petition. Such petitions are filed through Form I-129S, Non-immigrant Petition based on General Petition L.
As with the individual petition, USCIS provides an answer to this request using Form I-797.
To be eligible as applicants for an L-1 employee transfer visa, companies must demonstrate that:
- Both the parent company and its subsidiaries are qualified business organizations.
- You have an office in the USA with which you have been conducting business for a year or more.
- It has three or more subsidiaries, branches or affiliated companies, both national and foreign.
- The petitioner and the other qualified organizations meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
- In the last 12 months they have obtained at least 10 L-1 visas.
- They own subsidiaries or affiliates in the United States with at least $ 25 million or more. Your workforce in the US USA is 1,000 employees or more.
The fact that USCIS approves a general L visa petition does not guarantee the employee application approval. However, it does help the employer streamline the transfer processes of other eligible employees more quickly. Consequently, you will not have to make new individual requests.
Documentation required to apply for an L1 visa
In addition to the documents that must be submitted by the employer to USCIS, the L-1 visa applicant requires:
- Letter from the US employer stating that the L1 visa applicant will work in the required job position.
- Evidence or proof of employment as a manager, executive or specialized professional during the year prior to the application. The letter must be signed by an authorized company representative and include your job responsibilities.
In addition to other details such as:
- Qualification within the company.
- Busy charges.
- Wage level.
- Number of employees supervised.
- Level of authority or command.
- Time spent in the United States.
- Proof of the corporate relationship between the requesting entity and the company in the United States. This test can consist of three aspects:
- If it is an already established organization, such declaration can be presented by the legal representative of the company. It must describe the ownership and share control of the company. The company’s latest annual financial report can be attached to the letter.
- Small businesses can file the articles of incorporation, tax returns with the results of the year. As do accounting or audit reports and board of directors meetings.
- If it is a new US office USCIS will request a financial balance and evidence of the control and ownership of the company. These documents must be presented by the US employer and accompanied with the respective evidences. For example, bylaws, board meeting minutes, tax returns, financial and audit reports.
USCIS may require other documents to validate the information provided.
L-1 visas and their benefits
Some of the most important advantages of the L-1 visa include:
- Live with your family in the United States (spouse and children under 21 and single).
- It allows the holder and the spouse to work legally.
- It allows children to study at any public and private educational institution.
- It grants a quick entry and stay path to the country.
- Facilitates obtaining a green card or legal permanent residence.
L-1 visas for the Green Card
Companies established in the US for more than one year can serve as sponsors of L-1 visa holders. Even without first obtaining a PERM labor certification for the position offered. Similar to cases of H-1B visa holders and E-2 visas, under certain conditions.
By filing Form I-140, the employer can verify the worker’s eligibility for permanent residence. The employer must only prove to USCIS that the employee has been or will be working in a managerial position. In the functions of:
- Administration of the organization, division, department, area, function or component of the company.
- Supervision of the work carried out by other employees under his command within the organization.
- Decision-making and authority to hire and / or fire personnel under your orders. If you do not have more employees under your supervision then you perform high-level functions within the organizational structure.
- Daily operations and activities management under his responsibility.
- Establishment of policies and goals of the company, component or function.
- It is supervised only by the highest executive level of the company, the presidency or the board of directors.
Visa processing time
It depends on the request. There are two types of L1 visa processing modalities: the regular and the fast one.
It takes three to five months. When the request is made under a general L1 visa request, it takes only a few weeks. If the organization has already filed a general L-1 visa petition, the individual petitions are more expedited.
The premium (priority) procedure is much faster than the regular one. A response from USCIS is guaranteed within 15 days of the request. The result is notified by means of a denial, approval or request for further evidence (RFE) notice.
When an irregularity is detected in the application, it is notified that there is a misrepresentation or fraud. For fast processing, Form I-907 must be completed, along with Form I-129.
The priority processing fee is $ 1,225 and can be paid by check, money order, and credit / debit card.
L-1B visa interview
After submitting the visa application, the interview with the consular officer should be scheduled. The interview takes place at the United States embassy or consulate of the country where the applicant lives.
Before the interview, however, you should make sure you have all the documents in order. These documents, including forms submitted electronically and evidence, must be submitted on the day of the interview.
The common documents are:
- Valid passport with an expiration date of more than 6 months after the U.S. scheduled departure date.
- Passport photography with the specifications required.
- Copy of the confirmation page of Form DS-160 containing the barcode.
- Letter sent by the embassy confirming the appointment for the interview.
- For individual petitions, file forms I-129 and I-797.
- For general requests, file forms I-129S and I-797.
- Letter from the employer confirming the transfer of the employee. You must specify the functions, salary and other details inherent in the position.
- Proof of the managerial or executive role that it fulfills in the company.
- Evidence that you have worked for at least one continuous year with that employer in the last three years.
- Reference letters from other previous jobs, as well as contact information for superiors (bosses, supervisors and others).
- Photographs and brochures of the company where the applicant works.
- Resume of the applicant.
L-1 visa fees
The regular application fee for an L-1 visa is $ 325. Plus a $ 500 anti-fraud fee. Companies with 50 or more workers (50% of US employees with L nonimmigrant status) must pay additional fee. This filing fee for an L-1A or L-1B visa is $ 4,500.
L-1 visa renewal
As previously stated, this non-immigrant visa can be renewed. The extension of the L-1A visa has a maximum duration of 7 years. While for the L-1B visa it is 5 years maximum.
At the Lluis Law firm we will be happy to help you process any type of work or investment visa. If you want to emigrate to the United States, we can tell you about all the options that are available to you.