L1 Visa

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Overview

An L-1 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. It is a non immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time - generally three years. L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both a home country and the United States, or which intend to open a new office in the United States while maintaining their home country interests. The visa allows such foreign workers to relocate to the corporation's US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one year prior to being granted L-1 status. The US office must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company.

Spouses of L-1 visa holders are allowed to work, without restriction, in the US, and the L-1 visa may legally be used as a steppingstone to the Green Card under the doctrine of dual intent.


Who is eligible to Apply?

You may be an eligible candidate for the L-1 visa under L-1A or L-2A classification if you have worked for at least one year in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge services capacity abroad for the same corporation or firm, or for the branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the employer who will petition for you to work in the US.

L-1A Classification

An L-1A is an alien coming temporarily to perform services in a managerial or executive capacity for the same corporation or firm, or for the branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the employer who employed him or her abroad for one continuous year within the three-year period (six months within the previous three years if the employer is eligible and has filed for a blanket L-1 approval and meets the requirements for expedited processing), immediately preceding the filing of the petition, in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity.


L-1B Classification

An L-1B is an alien coming temporarily to perform services that entail specialized knowledge for the same corporation or firm, or for the branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the employer who employed him or her abroad for one continuous year within the three-year period (six months within the previous three years if the employer is eligible and has filed for a blanket L-1 approval and meets the requirements for expedited processing), immediately preceding the filing of the petition, in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity. Specialized knowledge is special knowledge of the employer's product or its application in international markets or an advanced level of the knowledge of the employer's processes or procedures.


What is a Blanket L Petition?

An L blanket petition simplifies the process of later filing for individual L-1A or L-2A workers. The petition is filed by employers who can show evidence that: The employer or its branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates are engaged in commercial trade or services; Have an aoffice in teh US that has been doing business for one year or more; Have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates

And

Employer or its qualifying organizations have obtained approved petitions for at least 10 L managers, executives or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous 12 months or have US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or Have a US workforce of at least 1000 employees.


How to apply for L-1 visa?

L-1 (intracompany transferee) status requires a sponsoring U.S. employer. If the employer has already received an approved Blanket Petition, then employer may file for individual employees to enter on the L-1A or L-2A status. If the employee is outside the US, the employer must file I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition. If the alien is already in teh US, Form I-129 must be filed to request a change of status based on the blanket petition. If no blanket approval exists, the employer must file a Form I-129 petition with the L supplement along with required application fee with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, USCIS. An individual can apply for a L-1 visa at the U.S embassy with the approved Form I-129 petition along with various other documents like Completed Non-immigration Visa Application Form DS-156, Form DS-157, Employment Verification letter and various other supporting documents and application fees. For a detailed list of the documents for the visa application and the procedure for applying for the visa, you should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy. The entire process could take few months and hence the employer and the individual should plan this entire process ahead of time.

When to apply for L-1 petition?

USCIS accepts L1 petitions anytime of the year.

Is there an annual limit on the number of L-1 visas per year?

There is no annual limit on the number of L-1 visas per year.

How long can an alien be in L-1 status?

Under L-1A classification, the alien is initially admitted for three years extensible to a maximum of seven years, in two year increments. Under L-1B classification, the alien is initially admitted for three years extensible to a maximum of five years. If the alien held an H-1B, then the time spent under the H-1B status will count towards this maximum. For L-1A, the alien may return on L-1A status after the spending at least one year abroad and will be eligible for another 7 year L-1A term. There is no time limit for aliens who reside intermittently in the U.S., or an aggregate of six months or less per year. L-1 visa may be extended if I-485 is pending.

2. An approved Employment-Based immigrant petition (I-140) qualifies an alien to get a 3-year extension instead of 1-year extension mentioned above.

Can an L-1 alien work for any employer?

L-1 employees may only work for the petitioning U.S. employer and only in the L-1 activities described in the petition.


Can an L-1 alien immigrate permanently to U.S?

L-1 visa is a dual intent visa and hence an L-1 alien can apply for and obtain an Employment Based Green Card through a sponsoring employer (not necessarily the same L-1 sponsoring employer) and immigrate permanently to U.S.

What happens to L-1 alien's legal status when he/she gets laid off?

An L-1 alien’s legal status is directly linked to his current job, in the event the alien gets laid off then he/she has to leave U.S immediately. The L-1 alien can avoid leaving the country if they can find another employer that can apply for their H1-B.

Can a L-1 alien switch employers?

A L-1 alien can switch employers provided the new employer is willing to sponsor a H-1B petition. The new employer should apply for a H-1B petition. The H-1B alien can start working for the new employer once the employer receives the receipts from USICS for the H-1B petition.

What can the dependents of L-1 alien do in the U.S?

The spouse and children (under 21) of an L-1 alien can obtain L-2 dependent status. The spouse can obtain work authorization while on L-2 status.


Relevant Links

L1 Visa

Petition for Immigrant Worker + L supplement, Form I-129

Non-immigration Visa Application, Form DS-156

Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157

U.S embassy

L-1 to H-1B, H-1B to L-1

Simultaneous H-1B and L-1

L-1 to H-1B issue

L-1 individual to new L-1 Blanket

L-1, L-2 and job loss

L-1B denial and appeal

L-1 and travel

L-1, H-1B and travel

L-1B extension and RFE

L-1 expiry and Green Card
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