The L visa is a dual-intent work visa that allows a U.S. employer to transfer an employee from a foreign office to an affiliated U.S. office.

There are two types of L Visas:

  • L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
  • L-1B Intracompany Transferee with Specialized Knowledge

Either visa may be used to open a new office, however additional requirements apply.

1. Period of Stay

Qualified employees receive a maximum initial stay of 3 years. Employees entering the U.S. to open a new office will typically receive a maximum initial stay of 1 year. Extensions of stay can be granted in 2 year increments for a total maximum stay of 7 years for L-1A and 5 years for L-1B.

Total maximum stay is 7 years (L-1A) or 5 years (L-1B).

Spouses and children are eligible for L-2 status. Spouses may also qualify for employment authorization.

2. General Requirements:

a. The foreign corporation and the U.S. company must have a qualifying relationship such as:

  • Parent/Subsidiary
  • Affiliate
  • Branch Office
  • Other (ie. joint venture project)

b. The employee transferee must have been employed by the foreign company for at least one year, on a full-time basis, in the three years before the date of the petition

c. The employee seeks to enter the U.S. to work in either an executive or managerial position, or in a specialized knowledge capacity

3. L-1A: Executive or Manager Position

The foreign employee must be primarily engaged in a managerial or executive function.

This means that USCIS will consider whether the position involves performance of daily tasks versus management oversight functions.

Executive capacity generally refers to an employee’s ability to make important decisions without much oversight.

Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of others, or the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.

Sources: INA 101(a)(44); 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii).

4. L-1B: Specialized Knowledge Capacity

The foreign employee must be primarily engaged in a specialized knowledge capacity.

This means that USCIS will examine the special knowledge, the company’s processes and procedures, the industry involved, the particular skill level of the employee, as well as other factors.

Specialized knowledge means “special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets” or “an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company.”

Sources: INA 214(c)(2)(B).

5. New Office Requirements

A foreign employer may send an employee to open a new affiliated office under certain circumstances:

  • The employer must have sufficient physical premises
  • The employer must have the financial ability to compensate the employee
  • The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

Sources: 8 C.F.R. 214.2(l)(3)(vi)-(v).

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The information provided in this post is not legal advice for your particular case.