The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa available to qualifying intra-company transferees (employees) coming to the U.S. to continue to work for the same, related or affiliated company (employer). Three types of employees may be sponsored for L-1 visas: Managers, Executives and those possessing Specialized Knowledge.
L-1 Visa Basics
Executives are individuals involved in strategic planning and development of the business. Managers are individuals involved in the day to day direction and administration of people. Specialized knowledge applies to someone with unique knowledge of the employer’s products, research, proprietary techniques, operational procedures or industry standards. Managers or Executives will be granted an L-1 visa for an initial three (3) year period and may be extended in two (2) year increments for a maximum of seven (7) years. Specialized Knowledge employees will be granted an L-1B visa for an initial three (3) years and it may be extended for a maximum of five (5) years.
Do You Qualify for an L-1 Visa?
A qualifying company in the U.S. can sponsor an employee for an L-1 visa, provided that the employee qualifies in either the above cited managerial, executive or specialized knowledge categories and the employee has worked at least one year during the last three at the non-U.S. office. The sponsoring company must continue to do business outside the U.S. for the duration of the employee’s L-1 status. There is no requirement that the sponsoring company be U.S. owned or incorporated. However, it is required that there exist an equity or control relationship between the foreign company and the U.S. company; which is best reviewed by competent legal counsel.
The L categories of visas are complicated and require planning that is too extensive to provide in any summary. The above information is a summary only and is not representative of the different categories and requirements.
Fast-Track to a “Green Card”
A unique opportunity to the beneficiaries of the L visas based on executive or managerial positions is that a petition for lawful permanent residence can be made after one year of employment in the U.S. without the need of a labor certification. This is a direct and faster method to permanent residency.
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