With today’s market increasingly becoming a global village, multinational companies have set up regional offices and centers of operations worldwide, establishing a robust universal existence. To boost their operations worldwide, international employers transfer executives and managers to their subsidiary, parent company, or corporate affiliates. Some even transfer managers to establish new offices overseas.

The United States, being an economic giant, is a common destination where many employees are transferred to work. Suppose an international company wants to move its executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge to the U.S. In that case, they will need an L-1 visa, which is also known as L intra-company transferee.

At the California Immigration Attorney, we have facilitated various L intra-company transfers. For this reason, if you are an international company looking to transfer managers and executives to the U.S., our attorneys can help you with the L-1 non-immigrant visa process to help your company achieve its global goals.

Understanding L Intra-Company Transferee

Intra-company transferee refers to a non-U.S citizen who, within three years before the time of application for admission in the U.S., has been an overseas employee of a corporate, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary for twelve months continuously. Further, the person must seek to enter the U.S. temporarily to provide services to a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or parent company of the employer, as a manager, executive or employee with specialized knowledge.

According to Public Law 91-225, any intra-company transferee seeking to work in the U.S. must apply for an L-1 non-immigrant visa. The L classification was established to allow multinationals to transfer workers with specialized knowledge to the U.S. for management efficiency, U.S. export expansion, and increase competition in the global marketplace. Take note that there is no cap on the number of individuals issued with an L-1 visa per quota.

  1. Definition of a Manager

An L-1 manager is an individual who:

  • Manages the entire company, or a department, function, unit, or section of the entity
  • Oversees and controls the duties of other supervisors, experts, or holders of managerial positions or is in charge of a critical role or division in the organization.
  • Has the powers to hire, fire, and offer a recommendation
  • Has powers to make decisions on daily operations of the organization’s function or division under their management.

The definition of managerial capacity, in this case, might be challenging to understand, considering there is lower management personnel who supervise or control non-management employees. These first-line supervisors are not usually termed as managers. However, the opposite may apply if the workers are directed at an expert level. An expert or professional level, in this case, refers to employees who are holders of university degrees in specific fields.

If you are being transferred to work in a managerial position and have been holding a similar role for one year overseas, you will be eligible for a green card.

  1. Definition of L-1 Executive

An L-1 executive is an individual whose primary objective:

  • Is to direct an entity, a major component or function of an entity
  • To set objectives or policies for the entire organization or one of its components or functions.
  • Enjoys extensive unrestricted decision-making powers
  • They receive only general supervision or direction from stakeholders, a board of directors, or higher-level executives.

Just like managers, transferees coming to work as executives may be eligible for a green card as priority workers.

  1. Definition of Individuals with Specialized Knowledge

L-1B refers to employees with proper knowledge of the company’s goods, services, studies, equipment, procedures, and their global market applications.

When the USCIS and consular evaluate your visa application, they will look for knowledge related to the U.S. office that is not rare in the company or the industry but is truly specialized or advanced and unique. Further, the agency will check to see the knowledge by the transferee is not readily available within U.S. borders.

Eligibility for L-1 Visa

Both the employer and worker must meet particular requirements to qualify for L-1 visas. For the employer, the following criteria must be met:

  • The firm must be a qualifying organization. This means it must be conducting organized, continuous, and regular business in the country or overseas during the whole period of the transfer. In this case, doing business refers to the stable and organized provision of goods and services and earning revenue. If the employer is not doing any business in the U.S., there must be plans underway to establish a business. If this is the case, the employer must provide all the documentation showing they are in the process of beginning doing business.
  • A specific and qualifying relationship between the international organization makes the application and the U.S based firm where the intra-company transferee will work. The relationship between the two must exist either as; branch and center of operations, sister companies, parent and subsidiary, or corporate affiliates.

In this case, a parent company is a non-United States firm owning more than half of U.S. employers. A branch refers to the same company but with a different location of operation. Subsidiaries, on the other hand, refer to U.S. based companies that own at least 50 percent of a foreign company.

Affiliates refer to companies with no direct ownership but are controlled by the same third party. The third-party can be a group of companies, persons, or a group of individuals.

The second criterion is the one that must be met by employees. Some of the conditions employees must meet include:

  • The employee must work continuously for the multinational company for a total duration of twelve months in the preceding thirty-six months. Note that if an employee has been working for twelve months in the U.S., they will need to work for the overseas firm outside the country for another twelve months.
  • The intra-company transferee must have worked for the overseas company in the capacities of a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge. Keep in mind that the transferee doesn’t need to perform the same role as they did overseas. What is crucial is that the employee served any of the three functions continuously for one year before applying for the L-1 visa. If you have been working in a managerial capacity, you could be transferred to the United States to work as an employee.
  • The intra-company transferee must be transferred to work in a manager’s capacity, executive, or specialized knowledge. Although we have mentioned above that a transferee doesn’t need to retain the same position after coming to the U.S., they must be working in a capacity that involves the roles played by managers, executives, or specialized employees.
  • Previous training and education levels and experience will determine the eligibility of the transferee for a particular position.
  • The transferee or L-1 visa applicant must signify their intention to depart the U.S. and return to their mother country upon completion or expiration of the authorized stay.
  • The transferee must work for the U.S. company that grants the stay for the visa status duration. However, if the employee qualifies for permanent residency, they can extend their stay in the country and even work for another company.

Requirements for Establishing a New Office in the U.S.

As mentioned earlier, an employer might petition L-1 visas for executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge employees even when not doing business. The criteria that must be met when establishing a new office includes:

  • Proof of acquiring physical space in the country for the new office
  • Proof of financial capacity to start operations in the U.S. and pay the intra-company transferee their salaries for the duration of the stay.

Other Essential Features of L-1 Visas

An L-1 visa allows an intra-company transferee to work for the L-1 sponsor for no more than thirty-six months on their first visa. The law provides an extension of this duration by two years, with the maximum stay for managers or executives being seven years. For persons with specialized knowledge, the full time for a visit is five years.

An intra-company transferee is expected to work full time. However, if you dedicate a significant part of your time to the job on an organized and regular basis, you can work less.

You should also know about these visas because the accompanying spouse and children may acquire L-2 U.S. visas. Further, the accompanying spouse can apply for employment authorization in the states.

The L-1 visa holder has the freedom to travel in and out of the U.S. until they complete the stay.

Benefits of L-1 Visas

One of the most sought-after non-immigrant visas in the United States is the L-1 visas. The reason being these visas possess unique features and benefits to both the employer and the transferee. Some of the benefits include:

Moderately Few Qualification Conditions

As an alien, there is an array of non-immigrant visas you can apply for, but unfortunately, the conditions for eligibility are stiff.

Take, for instance, O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visas. The applicant must demonstrate extraordinary capabilities through sustained national and international commendation. The other type of visas with precipitous requirements is the H-1B, which requires the applicant to possess a minimum education level of a bachelor’s degree. Further, applicants for these visas are chosen via a lottery system. Other temporary work visas are only available for citizens from specific countries, making eligibility more difficult.

Thankfully, with L intra-company transferee, the applicant only needs to have worked for an international company in an executive or managerial capacity to be eligible for a straight one year. The company petitioning the visa is the one that abides with this requirement. On the other end, the transferee only needs to possess special knowledge or hold the position of an executive or manager to qualify. These are relatively few conditions to meet compared to requirements for other visas.

Zero Quota Limit

All other forms of visas have a limit on the number of applicants per quota. However, with L-1 visas, there is no limit on the number of applicants awarded visas annually. Further, you can apply for these visas any time of the year, making them easier to acquire.

Immediate Family Members can Accompany you to the U.S.

If, as a successful petitioner, you have a legal spouse and minor or unmarried kids 21 years or younger, you can bring them along. The USCIS categorizes them as dependents, which makes them eligible for L-2 visas. The advantage of having an L-2 visa is that it allows your spouse to apply for employment authorization, which grants them work permits. Besides, the kids are allowed to enroll in U.S. schools or learning institutions.

Dual Intent

Suppose you are going to serve the U.S. office in the capacity of a manager or executive. In that case, you are categorized as a priority worker, making you eligible for a green card. This makes the L-1 visa a dual intent, meaning you can apply for permanent residency via the green card program without a breach of your L-1 status. Other visas like H-1B are not dual intent, which means you are ineligible for the green card program until you complete your stay.

No Minimum Education is Necessary

Under the L-1 visas, there is no minimum education requirement, unlike H-1B visas, which require the applicant to be at least a bachelor’s degree holder. Although it’s rare for an individual with specialized knowledge, a manager or executive not to have formal education, education qualification is not outlined in eligibility conditions.

Benefits Employers Obtain from L Intra-company Transferee

The overseas company and its United States colleague enjoy manifold benefits from the L intra-company transferee. Some of the benefits they derive from these visas include:

  1. Blanket Petition

The blanket petition is a feature in L-1 visas that allows employers to petition multiple workers’ transfer in a single petition. The employer saves a lot of time because they don’t have to provide qualifications every time they want to transfer an employee to the U.S.

  1. Establishing a New U.S. Office

Multinational companies or medium-sized enterprises that want to open branches in the U.S. can do so via L intra-company transferee. These companies can petition for L-1 visas for their managers or executive to establish offices in the U.S. if they are not doing any business. In this case, the fundamental condition is that the company must provide documentation of their plans to establish an office in the United States. After the petition is granted and the transferees have moved to the U.S., the organization must continue doing business and earning revenue.

  1. No Need to Obtain the Labor Condition Application (LCA) Certificate

Before issuing a non-immigrant work visa, an applicant must provide the LCA certification, which is proof of shortage of the skills to perform particular duties in the U.S., skills the applicant possesses. The Department of Labor is the agency that issues these certificates. And although the process of issuance is not a complex one, it’s time-consuming. Fortunately, if a company is petitioning L intra-company transferee visas, there is no need to obtain LCA certification.

  1. No Prevailing Wages

A primary requirement for an H-1B visa is the prevailing wages. This means that the employer must pay all the workers with similar skills average wages for the period of the stay. The average wages are set by SESA and depend on the experience, duties to be performed, and technical expertise. Sometimes the average salaries can be set too high for the employer. However, with L-1 visas, there is no requirement for prevailing wages, meaning employers are free to decide on employee wages. Despite the freedom, they should ensure the wages are reasonable.

L Intra-Company Transferee and their Family

As stated earlier, the L-1 visa worker can be accompanied by immediate family members to the U.S. These close family members include minor children under 21 and a legal spouse. However, for these family members to be allowed in the United States, they must apply for L-2 visas while the transferee is making the petition for an L-1 visa. This is done to enable them to move to the United States at the same time.

Take note that the U.S. doesn’t allow polygamy. Therefore, if, as a transferee, you have multiple legal spouses, you must choose one to accompany you to the states. Besides, same-sex partners are eligible for admission in the country because these marriages are recognized and legal.

Although the immediate family or dependents of the transferee may feel that they can all accompany the L-1 visa petitioner, it’s not always the case. The USCIS has a stringent definition of the beneficiaries of the L-2 visas. Only the unmarried children of the transferee who are 21 years or younger and the legal spouse qualify for L-2 visas. Other immediate family members, even if they are dependent on the transferee, are not eligible.

Just like the L-1 visa holder, L-2 visa holders have the freedom to enter and leave the U.S. if their stay is still valid. Further, there is no need for Advanced Parole application upon completion of their stay.

On the duration of stay, the L-2 visa expires at the same time as the L-1 visa. However, if the L-2 visa expires while the holder is outside the country, they must seek an extension in the U.S. embassy or consulate. The time it takes to process the extension depends on the current workload and backlog embassy or consulate handling the cases.

The Process of Application for L-1 Visa

The process of applying for L-1 visas is not as complicated as other visas. You can obtain these visas through the regular procedure or blanket petition. The steps you will follow in a standard procedure include:

Filing Form DS-160

The first step in this procedure involves an application for a non-immigrant visa using form DS-160. You can complete and submit these forms online, but your passport and passport-sized photos must accompany them.

Completing Form I-129

Your employer, an overseas company, will submit the non-immigrant worker petition by completing form I-129 to the USCIS agency. The application must be made forty-five days preceding the expected date of the transferee.

The Adjudication Process

In this step, the USCIS agency analyzes the application forms to determine if the applicant is eligible for the L-1 visa.

Consular Processing

Once the forms have been approved, the employer sends them to the transferee, who then takes them together with their application forms to the U.S. consulate in the country they are applying from. A consular interview is then conducted on the transferee to determine if they are eligible for the L-1 visa. If the consulate approves your application, the USCIS will automatically issue the visa.

Requirements for L-1 Visa Application

When the intra-company transferee is attending the consulate interview, they must carry the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Approved form DS-160 and payment receipts
  • Recent passport size photos
  • Original and copies of the consular interview appointment letter
  • Applicant’s resume
  • Form I-129 payment receipts
  • The comprehensive job description of the position the applicant will hold abroad
  • The detailed job description of the position the transferee holds overseas
  • Academic qualification and training documents like bachelor’s degree certificate
  • Bank records for the last six months

Blanket Petition Application Process

As mentioned earlier, a blanket petition reduces the petition time for the employer because they don’t file separate petitions. A single petition is enough for multiple transferees.

The process of application is similar to the normal process. However, in a blanket petition, the applicant skips the adjudication and consular procedures.

Besides, if the blanket petition is approved, it’s not the end of the applicant’s load because the consular office might still decline to award the visa.

Processing Time for L-1 Visas

The time it takes to process an L-1 visa depends on the USCIS center, submitted application, and home country. However, it takes up to six months to process I-129 forms. On the other hand, consular processing takes around six months, with a possibility of the duration being extended if there is a request for evidence.

Find an California Immigration Attorney Near Me

L-1 visa or L intra-company transferee provides you with an opportunity to live and work in the United States. And while the information provided above is intended to help you understand the whole process of application and requirements, you need guidance from an experienced immigration attorney throughout the process to increases the chances of being awarded a visa. At the California Immigration Attorney, we are here to help you ensure your application is made right. Call us today at 424-789-8809 to discuss your options.