L-1 Visa for Intra-Company Transferees

Below is a general summary of the L-1 visa for intra-company transferees. It is not intended to serve as a comprehensive outline of all aspects of US Immigration Law pertaining to the L-1 visa.

The L-1 visa is a temporary working visa. There are two types of L-1 visas, the L-1A and the L-1B. Requirements common to both types of L-1 visas include:

  1. A foreign worker must have been offered a position in the United States by a firm, corporation, or other legal entity.
  2. The foreign worker must have been employed outside of the United States by the US employer’s parent, affiliate, or subsidiary, for a continuous period of one year during the preceding three years.
  3. The foreign worker is entering the United States to continue to work for the same foreign employer, its parent, its affiliate or its subsidiary.
  4. Usually, the initial visa validity period is for three years. If the foreign worker is traveling to the United States to open a new parent, affiliate or subsidiary of the foreign employer, the initial visa validity period is one year.
  5. There is no prevailing wage requirement associated with this visa.

In the case of an L-1A visa, the following additional requirements and restrictions apply:

1. The foreign worker must have served the employer abroad in a managerial or executive capacity.

  • In determining whether the position abroad was managerial or executive, the government will look at the title, the job duties, the person’s place within the company organizational chart, and the number of employees who work under the executive or manager as well as the education or skill level of the subordinate employees.
  • The higher the number of subordinate employees, the higher the likelihood that the government will accept that the position abroad was managerial or executive.

2. The foreign worker must be offered a position in the United States as a manager or executive.

  • In determining whether the position in the US will be managerial or executive, the government will look at the title of the position offered, the job duties, the place of this position within the US company organizational chart, and the number of employees who will work under the prospective executive or manager as well as the education or skill level of the subordinate employees.
  • The higher the number of subordinate employees, the higher the likelihood that the government will accept that the position abroad was managerial or executive.
  • If the foreign worker is coming to work at a “new office” in the US, the government will not require the company to have a large number of subordinate employees already in place. The government will give the foreign worker 1 year to come to the US as an L-1A so that he or she can hire enough employees to support the executive role after that first year.
  • A “new office” is one that has been in existence for less than 1 year.

3. A maximum continuous period of seven years is available.

In the case of an L-1B visa, the following additional requirements and restrictions apply:

  • The foreign worker must have served the employer abroad in a position which requires specialized knowledge. Specialized knowledge personnel include those who have a unique level of information or knowledge of the employer’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, or management.
  • The government will assess whether the knowledge the worker has is so specialized that it is not known within the industry generally and it is not widely known even within the company. In other words, if the worker is the only person or one of a very small number of people within the company who has this knowledge, the worker is more likely to be considered a specialized knowledge individual.
  • The foreign worker must be offered a position with the United States entity which also requires specialized knowledge.
  • A maximum continuous period of five years is available.

Contact a San Diego Immigration Attorney

Located in San Diego, California, Chawla Law Group commonly works with employees and businesses seeking L-1 visas in San Diego, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay / Silicon Valley area, and throughout California. We are also happy to work with select clients elsewhere in the US and throughout the globe. Contact us for a consultation by completing our online information form, calling (858) 586-0700, or emailing vchawla@chawlalaw.com.

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