L VISAS (L-1A AND L-1B) FOR INTRACOMPANY TRANSFEREES (TEMPORARY WORKERS)

L-1A and L-1B visas are available for temporary intracompany transferees who work in managerial positions or have specialized knowledge.

I.     ELIGIBILITY

L-1A and L-1B visas may be issued when an employer (also known as the “Petitioner”) files a petition to obtain authorization for qualified employees to be allowed to work and live in the United States.  The employee is known as the “Beneficiary.”

  • The L-1A visa is for intracompany transferees who work in managerial or executive positions in a company that is located outside the United States, and want to work for the company’s parent, subordinate, or affiliate in the U.S.

  • The L-1B visa is for intracompany transferees who work in positions requiring specialized knowledge and want to bring that knowledge to the US office of a foreign company.

II.    ESTABLISHING NEW OFFICES

Foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office must show:

  • They have a physical location for the new office;

  • The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years before filing the petition; and

  • The new office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

The initial visa period eligibility is one year to establish a new office.  The Beneficiary can use an L-1A for up to seven (7) years in total.

III.   L-1A CLASSIFICATION

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with fee, on behalf of the employee beneficiary.

To qualify, the Beneficiary must:

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately before admission to the United States; and

  • Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations. 

“Executive capacity” generally refers to the ability to make a wide range of decisions without much oversight (generally, supervising the managers).

“Managerial capacity” generally refers to the Beneficiary’s ability to supervise and control the work of professional employees, and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the Beneficiary’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.

Validity Period and Green Card Options:

L-1A visas are offered in are available up to seven (7) years, and the Beneficiary may apply for an EB-1-C Green Card without having to go through PERM Processing.  The Beneficiary’s spouse and non-married children under the age of 21 are also eligible for a Green Card.  For these reasons, this the L-1A is an especially desired visa.

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for an L-2 visa, and the spouse is entitled to work in this classification.

Examples:

We have successfully filed numerous L-1A applications for the following job titles:

  • CEO

  • CFO

  • Branch Manager

  • District Manager

  • Vice President, Brand

  • General Manager, Sales

  • Customer Service Manager

Read more about the L-1A visa here

IV.    L-1B CLASSIFICATION

If the petitioner cannot demonstrate the L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.

To qualify the Beneficiary must:

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately before admission to the United States; and

  • Be seeking to enter the United States to provide services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

“Specialized knowledge” either means knowledge the Beneficiary has about the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests, and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.

A key test for “specialized knowledge” is whether it would be difficult to impart the knowledge to another party without substantial economic hardship for the United States or foreign firm. Whether or not the intended position requires the “specialized knowledge” needed for an L-1B visa depends on whether the position requires knowledge that is atypical in the industry, and complex enough in nature that it cannot be easily taught to another employee currently in the United States.

Validity Period and Green Card Options:

The L1B has a maximum validity of five (5) years. L1-B status can be granted for up three (3) years initially, and if eligible, the L1-B employee can obtain a two (2)-year extension. In order to extend status beyond the fifth year, the L1-B employee can change to another nonimmigrant work visa status like L1-A, H-1B, or O-1, if eligible.

The Beneficiary may apply for a Green Card, but PERM Processing will be required. 

Examples:

If a Beneficiary cannot establish that it will be managing people a function, or a department, you may consider whether the Beneficiary has specialized knowledge of the foreign office’s products, procedures, or techniques, and will share this knowledge with the US offices.  Sample jobs include:

  • Engineer with advanced knowledge of his or her employer’s high precision mechanical components, or complex proprietary processes specific to the employer company;

  • Head of Project Management Office (the Beneficiary created this department abroad and is building out this department at the US headquarters).

How to Prove Specialized Knowledge:

When reviewing an L-1B application, the USCIS officer will refer to a non-exhaustive list of six factors to determine if an employee possesses specialized knowledge. These factors include:

  1. Does the employee possess knowledge of foreign operating conditions that is of significant value to the petitioning organization’s U.S. operations?

  2. Has the employee been working abroad in a capacity involving assignments that have significantly enhanced the employer’s productivity, competitiveness, image, or financial position?

  3. Can the employee’s claimed “specialized knowledge” normally be gained only through prior experience with the petitioning organization?

  4. Does the employee possess knowledge of a product or process that cannot easily be transferred or taught to another individual without significant economic cost or inconvenience?

  5. Does the employee have knowledge of a process or a product that is either sophisticated or complex, or of a highly technical nature, although not necessarily unique to the petitioning organization?

  6. Does the employee possess knowledge that is particularly beneficial to the petitioning organization’s competitiveness in the marketplace?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you may have a strong case for L-1B status.

For more information on the L-1B visa, read this article

Want to learn if you or your employee would qualify for an L-1A or L-1B visa?

Schedule a consultation with our attorneys here.