L-1 Intracompany Transferees

Intracompany transferees are aliens who come to the United States to work in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge capacity for a U.S. parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of their foreign employer. In order to qualify for the visa, the alien must have been employed continuously with the foreign employer for one year during the previous three years. A manager is defined by the regulations as an employee who manages the organization or a department, supervises the work of other professional employees, has the authority to hire and fire and exercises discretion over the day to day operations of the organization or his department. An executive directs the management of the organization, establishes goals and policies, exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision making and receives only general supervision from higher level executives. A specialized knowledge employee is a professional possessing special knowledge of the company’s particular product or service. Managers and executives are eligible for the L1-A visa, while specialized knowledge employees are eligible for the L1-B visa.

Individual Petitions

A qualifying U.S. company (petitioner) must be a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the foreign company. The U.S. company must be doing business actively in the U.S., and not be merely exist as an office or agent of the foreign company. The foreign company must also continue to operate during the validity of the L-1 petition.

The petition must be filed with:

  • Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and the foreign employer;
  • Evidence that the employee’s prior year of employment abroad was in a position that was managerial, executive, or involved specialized knowledge;
  • Evidence that the employee’s prior education, training and employment qualify them to perform the intended services in the U.S. (the work in the U.S. need not be the same work that the employee performed abroad);
  • Evidence that the employee will be employed in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge, including a detailed description of the services to be performed.

If the employee is coming to the U.S. as an executive or manager to open a new office or to be employed in an office that has been open for less than one year, then the petition must include the following additional evidence:

  • Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured;
  • The employee has been employed for one continuous year in the three year period preceding the filing of the petition in an execute or managerial capacity and the proposed employment involves executive or managerial authority over the new operation; and
  • Within one year of approval, the intended U.S. operation will support an executive or managerial position.

If the employee is coming to the U.S. to work in a specialized knowledge capacity, the following additional evidence is required:

  • Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured;
  • The business entity in the U.S. is or will be a qualifying organization with respect to its affiliation with the foreign entity; and
  • The petitioner has the financial ability to remunerate the employee and to commence doing business in the U.S.

Blanket Petitions

Certain large multinational corporations who regularly file "L" petitions may wish to obtain continuing approval of all branches of its organization as qualifying. This simplifies the process of approving and admitting additional individual L-1A and L-1B workers. In order to qualify for blanket approval, the petitioner must meet the following requirements:

  • the petitioner and each of the entities sought to be qualified are engaged in commercial trade or services;
  • the petitioner has an office in the U.S. that has been doing business for one year or more;
  • the petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates;
  • the petitioner and its affiliates have obtained approval of petitions for at least ten "L" managers, executives or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous twelve months; or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

Limitations on Stay

The initial period of stay for an L-1 employee is one (1) year in a new office and three (3) years in an existing office. Extensions can be obtained in increments of two (2) years for a maximum of seven (7) years for managers and executives and five (5) years for specialized knowledge professionals. Indefinite extensions may be obtained for employees whose annual U.S. stay in L-1 status (and the annual stay of their dependent family members) does not exceed six (6) months in the aggregate. An employee who has exhausted his five (5) or seven (7) year maximum stay must depart the U.S. for a period of one continuous year in order to re-enter in L-1 status.

L-1 executives and managers whose duties become permanent during their stay in L-1 status may qualify for permanent residency under the employment based first preference (EB-1) category. For a specific discussion of permanent residence for multinational executives and managers, click here.

Dependents

Spouses and minor children of L-1 employees are eligible to accompany the L-1 employee to the U.S. in L-2 status. L-2 spouses are currently eligible to file for employment authorization incident to their status. Such employment authorization is valid for any type of lawful employment in the United States. L-2 minor children are not eligible to receive employment authorization incident to their status.