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L-1A And L-1B Visas For Company Transferees

At Wilson Law Group in Minneapolis, our immigration attorneys assist with all nonimmigrant employment visas, including L-1A and L-1B visas for company transferees like executives, managers and employees.

What Is An L-1 Nonimmigrant Visa?

The L-1 nonimmigrant visa is similar to the H-1B visa in that it is employment-based and dependent on a valid job offer. The L visa category offers numerous advantages that make it worth considering. First, unlike the H-1B visa, Congress has yet to enact a cap on the number of L visas issued annually. Second, if a company elects to employ an L visa holder permanently in the United States, it can be easier for the foreign national to obtain permanent resident status in most instances than it is for other visa holders.

The General Requirements Of The L-1 Visa

The U.S. government generally requires the following for an L-1 petition:

  • The person has to have been an employee of an overseas company or have held a majority interest in an overseas company for the minimum of a one-year period during the preceding three years.
  • The company for which the person worked for a year abroad must have a qualifying relationship with a company in the United States, such as a subsidiary or affiliate.
  • The foreign company must have employed the person transferring to the U.S. in an executive or managerial position or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
  • The person must be transferring to the United States to assume a position that requires the person to assume an executive or managerial position or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
  • The transferee must qualify for the position, including possessing sufficient education, training and related experience.

The L-1A visa is for executives and managers, while the L-1B visa is for individuals possessing specialized knowledge.

Qualifying As An Executive Position

A position generally qualifies as an executive position if its duties include all of the following:

  • Directing the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization
  • Establishing the goals and policies of the organization, component or function
  • Exercising wide latitude in discretionary decision-making
  • Receiving only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization

Qualifying As A Managerial Position

A position generally qualifies as a managerial position if its duties include all of the following:

  • Managing the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization
  • Supervising and controlling the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or managing an essential function within the organization
  • Holding authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions, or, if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level
  • Exercising direction over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority

Can A Person With A L-1 Visa Become A Permanent Resident?

While the L-1 visa requires foreign nationals to enter with nonimmigrant intent, the visa holder may pursue permanent resident status simultaneously. The L visa is one of the few “dual intent” visas that allow people to enter with a nonimmigrant intent and then switch to an immigrant intent later. Another dual intent visa is the H-1B visa. The EB-1 Multinational Manager/Executive category for employment-based green cards closely resembles the L-1A visa category. The green card requires a showing of essentially the same evidence in addition to the requirement that the U.S. operation be in existence for at least a year.

How Long May An L-1 Visa Holder Remain In The United States?

The maximum period of stay depends on the nature of the position. Executives and managers enter as L-1A visa holders. A person with an L-1A may stay for up to seven years. Specialized knowledge employees, however, enter as L-1B visa holders. They cannot stay for more than up to five years in the U.S.

Regardless of whether the person receives an L-1A or L-1B, all L visas expire in three years or less. Whether the visas permit multiple entries depends on the alien’s country of origin. Qualified employees entering the U.S. to open a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of only one year.

Can A Person Use An L-1 Visa To Open A New Office In The United States?

Yes, although the initial authorized stay will be limited to only one year. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security will require extensive documentation regarding the new enterprise. It is possible to extend the visa. The government, however, will require significant evidence that the company is following its plans.

What Is A Blanket Petition?

The L visa category is unique in that it has a method of simplifying the process of transferring numerous employees to the U.S. The process is known as a blanket petition or approval because it applies to numerous employees instead of the typical petition per worker method.

Call An Experienced Immigration Lawyer

The L visa can have arduous requirements. Our experienced immigration lawyers at Wilson Law Group can help you understand how to navigate the process for you or your business. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 612-430-8022 or send us an email through our website.