The L-1 nonimmigrant category is for intracompany transfers and blanket L petitions. It is available to individuals who have worked for a foreign corporation that has a parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate company in the U.S. Similar to H-1B it allows for dual intent so the foreign national can have the intent to immigrate to the U.S. and apply for a green card while on L-1 status. The individual must have been employed in an executive or managerial position (L-1A), or in a specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B) for the foreign company before being transferred to the U.S. office. Our lawyers can work with U.S. clients who have offices in New York or elsewhere in the United States.
A Manager is defined as an individual that manages a company or one of its core components, personally supervises and controls the work of other professionals or manages an essential function of the organization, can hire and fire personnel or operates as a senior level, and exercises discretion over day-to-day functions of the business.
An Executive is defined as an individual that directs the management of the organization or one of its core functions, establishes goals and policies, exercises discretionary decision making, and receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, board of directors or stock holders.
An individual has specialized knowledge when that person possesses a heightened level of knowledge of the petitioning company’s products, services, equipment, techniques, or other interests or has an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the company’s processes and procedures.
To qualify for L-1 status, the foreign national must have been employed abroad by the foreign employer on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year during the last three-year period. The individual must be coming to the U.S. to hold a Managerial, Executive, or Specialized Knowledge position. Our lawyers based in New York have extensive experience with this visa category and have successfully guided companies of all kinds with successful applications.
Typically, both the foreign and U.S. entities must have been operating for at least one full year prior to the time of application. Both entities must be actively doing business, meaning that they both engage in regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services. Both companies, whether in New York or elsewhere in the U.S., should also have an established workforce and sufficient office space to conduct business.
Successful applicants will be approved for a maximum period of three years.
New Office Petitions
An individual can also obtain an L-1 visa in order to open a new office and expand new operations in the United States. This is referred to as a New Office L-1 petition. In this case, the petitioner must demonstrate that a U.S. entity has been incorporated, that sufficient physical space has been secured to conduct business in the U.S., and that the foreign entity is able to commence doing business in the U.S.
In order to qualify for a new office L-1 petition there is no requirement that the U.S. entity must be doing business. As a result, USCIS will grant L-1 status to the applicant for a one-year period. During this time, the petitioning entity must commence business in the U.S. If successful, the company can submit subsequent petitions to extend the applicants L-1 status in three-year increments with a maximum time period of 7 years for L-1A and 5 years for L-1B.