Who can Apply for An L-1 Visa?
L-1 non-immigrant visa is for intracompany transferees who come to the United States to temporarily work for a U.S. company. If you are a foreign worker overseas, a U.S. company may qualify to transfer you with an L-1 visa, as an overseas employee, to the U.S. to work as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge personnel.
Who is Considered An L-1 Manager?
“A manager generally refers to someone who supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional managerial employees. The L-1 visa classification also includes managers of an essential function within the organization or a department or subdivision of the organization.”
Who is Considered An L-1 Executive?
“An executive generally refers to someone who primarily directs the organization or a major component or function of the organization.”
Who is Considered Someone With L-1B Specialized Knowledge?
“An individual with specialized knowledge is someone who possesses special knowledge, of the organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.”
What Are the Requirements for Obtaining L-1 Status?
Requirements for obtaining L-1 visa status are:
The Employee Must Work for the Overseas Company for a Total of One Year in the Preceding Three Years.
Before being transferred to the U.S. company with an L-1 visa, the employee must have completed one continuous year of work outside the U.S. with the overseas company. However, if an employee works in the U.S. during that year, he or she will need to equally work for the overseas company in order to obtain a total of at least 12 months employment overseas.
The Overseas Company and the U.S. Company Must be Related in a Specific Manner.
The overseas company that the employee works for during the required period of one year must be related, such that it must be the same employer, subsidiary, or affiliate of the U.S. company. To prove the amount of time worked, the employee may include pay stubs, payroll records, or tax records.
The Company Must Be a Qualifying Organization.
In order for the company to be a qualifying organization, it must be doing regular, systematic, and continuous business in the U.S. and another country during the entire duration of the transfer.
The Employee to Be Transferred from Overseas Must Have Been Employed in an Executive, Managerial, or Specialized Knowledge Position.
The transferee must fill in at least one of the following three capacities: executive, manager, or specialized knowledge. There is no requirement for the employee being transferred to the U.S. to perform the same services as he or she did overseas; they may be employed in a different capacity in the U.S. For example, an individual with specialized knowledge overseas may be transferred to work in the U.S. as a manager. The same is possible with an employee working as a manager overseas and being transferred to the U.S. as an employee. Provided that the position held by the employee was for a period of one year before transferring with an L-1 visa.
The Employee Must be Transferred to The U.S. to work in an Executive, Managerial, or Specialized Knowledge Capacity.
As explained above, the employee must not fill in the same position as he or she did overseas. However, the employee must be working in a capacity involving duties of an executive, manager, or specialized knowledge personnel.
- Previous Education and Experience Will Determine the Employee’s Qualifications for a Particular Position.
The employee must be qualified for the position he or she is transferring to occupy. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) require proof of such qualifications by showing prior education and experience. This proof must be presented with the L-1 petition.
The L-1 Transferee Must intend to Depart the United States Upon Completion.
The employee must intend to depart the U.S. after the completion of his authorized stay. However, an L-1 employee can seek permanent residency in the U.S. if he qualifies on another basis.
How Long Can I Stay in the U.S with an L-1 visa?
An individual, entering the United States in L-1 status, will stay for the time required by the U.S. company, up to three years maximum. However, up to two years of extension can be authorized in increments. A maximum stay for managers and executives (L-1A) is seven years, where as for specialized knowledge personnel (L-1B), it’s five years.
An employee with specialized knowledge may later qualify for a managerial or executive position within the U.S. company only if the specialized knowledge employee has been performing managerial or executive duties for six months before requesting an extension of stay beyond what is permitted for the specialized knowledge employee, which is five-years.
This distinction is important for two reasons. First, to determine the duration of the transferee’s stay. Second, because managers and executives have a potential route to obtaining permanent residency in the U.S.
Can I Bring Family to the United States if I have an L-1 Visa?
Under L-2 nonimmigrant category, family members of the L-1 nonimmigrant are permitted to enter the United States. Family members only include the visa holder’s spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21. However, once children reach the age of 21, they may no longer remain in the U.S.
The duration period for family members is the same as that of which the main working family member is admitted. Family members admitted in the L-2 nonimmigrant category may now be authorized to work and study while remaining in the U.S.
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