This category provides managers, executives or other specialized knowledge employees who work abroad for a US company with an affiliated entity inside the US to perform services for the US office, subsidiary or affiliated company.
- The employee must have worked abroad for the overseas company for a continuous period of one year in the preceding three years;
- The overseas company must be related to the U.S. company in a specific manner, that is, it must be a subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner;
- The company must be a qualifying organization, that is, one that is doing business in the United States and one other country during the whole period of the transfer;
- The employee to be transferred must have been employed abroad in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge position;
- The employee must be coming to the U.S. company to work in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity;
- The employee must be qualified for the sought position by virtue of his or her prior education and experience;
- The foreign national must intend to depart the United States upon completion of his or her authorized period of stay.
Duration of Stay & the 5/7-Year Limits:
The maximum period of stay initially is three years, with a two-year extension that is available.
For L-1A managers, the maximum stay is 7 years, whereas the maximum for L-1B specialized knowledge personnel is 5 years.
Note, the regulations allow for recapture of any time spent outside the US. Thus, the L-1 transferee can “recapture” time spent outside the US and extend their L-1 status by that same amount of time.
More importantly, the time spent on H status counts toward the 5/7-year time limit.
The spouse and children under 21 are allowed to accompany the L-1 visa holder during the period of the transferee status. The Spouse may receive work authorization.
New Offices & the Special One-Year Rule – there is a special one-year initial period of stay applied if the foreign national is coming to the US to open a new company office. In such a case, the extension must be filed in one year, as a part of which the company must establish that is has been doing business both in the United States and abroad during the year, before any extension of stay requests can be approved.
L-1A Managers or Executives.
A manager has the following characteristics:
- Manages the entire organization or department, subdivision, function or component of the organization.
- Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees or manages an essential function, department or subdivision of the organization.
- Making day-to-day decisions concerning the operations of the part of the organization under his management.
- The manager has the authority to hire and fire or make other personnel decisions regarding the employees that are being supervised. In the even that no employees are being supervised, the manager must work at a senior level within the organization.
- Note in this respect that first-line supervisors – those who usually supervise non-manager employees – are not considered “managers” unless the employees who are supervised are professionals (holding a university degree in a field related to their occupation).
An executive has the following characteristics:
- Directs the management of the organization or a major function or component thereof;
- Sets the goals and policies of the organization or a part or function thereof;
- Extensive exercise of discretion in making a decision;
- Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.
L-1B Specialized Knowledge Employees – this term refers to that employee who has a special knowledge or insight of the company’s products, services, research equipment, techniques, management or other important aspects and its application to international markets, or advanced knowledge of the employing company’s processes and procedures. This knowledge must not be commonly held throughout the industry
Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and foreign employer, such as:
- Annual reports
- Articles of incorporation
- Financial statements
- Stock certificates
A letter from the foreigner’s qualifying employer detailing the following:
- Dates of employment
- Job duties
- Proof that the alien worked for the employer for at least one continuous year in the three-year period preceding the filing of the petition in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity
Description of the proposed job duties, qualifications and evidence the proposed employment is in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity
If the alien is coming to the U.S. to open a new office, also file the petition with copies of evidence the business entity in the U.S.:
- Already has sufficient premises to house the new office
- Has, or upon establishment will have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign employer
- Has the financial ability to remunerate the foreign national and to begin doing business in the U.S., including evidence about:
- Size of the U.S. investment
- Organizational structure of both firms
- Financial size and condition of the foreign employer
- If the foreign national is coming as an L-1 manager or executive to open a new office, such evidence must establish that the intended U.S. operation will support the executive or managerial position within one year.
Blanked L-1 Visas – this option is available for large companies that are affiliates, subsidiaries or branches of non-US companies, and frequently transfer employees among their branches or subsidiaries. Blanket L-1 visas allow such companies to do so without filing individual L-1 petitions for each transferee. Such petitions are initially approved for three years only, after which they can obtain indefinite renewals.