L-1 Intracompany Transfer

What is the L-1 visa?

The L1 visa allows foreign nationals who work for companies that have operations both in the United States as well as in their home country to enter the country in order to transfer to the company based in the U.S.

Who is eligible?
  • Managers and executives who have worked for the same or related company (or its subsidiary, or sister company) in their home country for at least a year and who meet the specific legal definitions;
  • Specialized knowledge staff who have worked for the same or related company (or its subsidiary, or sister company) in their home country for at least a year.

The spouse and children (under the age of 21) of the L1 visa holder may be granted an L2 visa through separate application. The spouse has a right to be employed in the United States during the duration of the stay, and may apply for and receive a social security card in order to work. The children may attend school, but they do not have the right to find employment or to work.

The company that petitions for the issuance of L1 visas must show proof that the entities in both countries are related through corporation, subsidiaries, sister company, franchise, or other means.

What is the duration of the visa?

Managers and executives who qualify are granted an L1A visa that lasts for three years, with the potential of being granted two successive extensions of two years each, totaling a maximum of seven years.

Specialized workers who qualify are granted an L1B visa that last for three years, with the potential of being granted one successive extension of one year, totaling a maximum of five years.

L1 for New Office in the U.S.

Many companies consider starting a company in the U.S. after success abroad. The L1 visa allows managers and executives to come to the U.S. for the purpose of establishing a new office.

In order to open a new office, it must be shown that a space has been secured to operate a new office, that the beneficiary (executive or manager) has been employed for one continuous year in the three year period preceding the filing of the petition in an executive or managerial capacity, and that the proposed employment involves executive or managerial authority and discretion over the new operation. L1 visas for new offices are normally given for an initial period of only one year. The employer is required to file a petition for an extension if the executive or manager is to continue to stay in the U.S. location. How long the extension will be granted for will depend on the type of L1 visa involved. Filing for an L1 extension for a new office involves the requirement of providing additional evidence. Extensions should be filed at least 60 days before the expiration of the L1 visa, but could be filed sooner. Because it is expected that during that first initial year, the executive/manager will be involved in the day-to-day operations of the business, for purposes of the extension, the employer must show how the executive or manager will transition into making decisions about the goals and management of the organization as opposed to being involved in the day-to-day operation of the business.

Dual Intent

Unlike many other nonimmigrant visa applicants, the L1 applicant may have a dual intent to both work in the United States and apply for permanent resident status. The applicant will not be denied the L1 visa for lack of proof of foreign residency, nor for the intent to abandon their residency in their home country.

Blanket Petitions

When the USCIS has already determined that a company qualifies for the issuance of the L1 visa for the purposes of transferring foreign executives, managers and specialized knowledge staff into the United States for a specified period of time, individual applicants need only file a copy of a blanket petition in order to obtain their L1 visa. A visa attorney can assist the applicant in both filing blanket petitions with all the correct documentation that is necessary, as well as the regular L1 visa. Blanket petitions cannot be renewed, but new petitions must be filed.

If an L1 visa holder is terminated from his job while in the United States before the visa has expired, the applicant may be given a grace period to find other employment; otherwise the foreign national will have to leave the country before the visa expires.

When You Should Hire An Attorney With Your L-1 Case?

As noted above, the L1 visa process can be very complicated, given the number of requirements and documents that must be submitted for consideration before being granted this benefit.

Unless applicants are prepared to educate themselves on the detailed requirements of obtaining an L1 Intra-Company Transfer visa, their best option may be to hire a qualified immigration attorney, who can do all the necessary work to make sure that the process runs smoothly and that the legal requirements are met without undue delay or confusion.

If you or someone you know is interested in obtaining an L1 visa (including L-1A, L-1B, and extensions), Austin, Texas immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm can help. Ms. Lyttle has helped many clients with U.S. immigration matters, and she can effective represent L1 visa clients. Furthermore, because L1 visas are matters of federal law, rather than state law, we can help clients nationwide and abroad.

Because Ms. Lyttle is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, she can communicate directly with clients in these languages, read and understand documents in these languages, and communicate with any foreign officials in these languages, if necessary.

The Lyttle Law Firm can give you and your family members peace of mind in undertaking this difficult and potentially frustrating and time-consuming task. Once hired, the Lyttle Law Firm will take over the application process from beginning to end, keeping clients informed, and taking the stress out of the process. If you need assistance obtaining an L1 Intra-Company Transfer visa, contact the Lyttle Law Firm.