L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa

Our firm has successfully represented clients in cases of L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visas, view our L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa Success Stories.

L-1 intracompany transfer visas are non-immigrant visas available to persons coming to work in the US for an employer that is related to a company the applicant worked for prior to entering the US.

The first requirement for the L-1 visa is for the applicant to have been continuously employed abroad for one year of the last three for a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of a US employer. The employer may be a company or other legal entity including a profit, non-profit, religious, or charitable organization. It does not matter if the company is incorporated or not. Any time spent working in the US will not count toward the one year of required employment, though time spent in the US will not be considered to have disrupted the continuity of employment abroad. It is possible to use a combination of part-time employment for affiliated companies under certain circumstances.

Second, the foreign firm and the US firm must have a “qualifying relationship.” Both the US and the foreign firm must have common majority ownership, or, where there is less than majority ownership, common control by the same person or entity. Ownership by a common group of owners where no owner has control or a majority interest can cause a problem if each individual owner does not own approximately the same amount of both the US and the foreign company. This problem can sometimes be worked around if the owners have set up a voting agreement to ensure that there are not different groups controlling the foreign firm and the US firm.

Third, the applicant must be coming as a manager, executive or specialized knowledge employee.

An “executive” is one who directs the management of the company or a major part or function of the organization. Typical executive positions are presidents, vice-presidents and controllers. An executive is expected to have a supervisory role in the company (either over personnel or a function) and would not include people who are primarily performing the specific tasks of production or providing service to customers. A “manager” directs the organization, a department, or a function of the organization. Like executives, a qualifying manager will not be overseeing the primary performance of a task. Exceptions apply when a manager or executive is coming to open a new office.

“Specialized knowledge” refers to employees with

  • a special knowledge of the company’s products and their applications in world markets;
  • an advanced or proprietary knowledge of the company’s processes or procedures.

Fourth, the applicant must intend to depart the US when his or her stay is over. But the applicant may also pursue permanent residency simultaneously without a negative impact on the ability to keep or extend an L visa. This is because the doctrine of dual intent applies to L-1 visas (just like H-1B visas). This makes the L visa a popular option for multinational firms. Executives and managers may stay in L-1 status for up to seven years. They are granted L-1A status. Specialized knowledge employees may stay in the US for up to five years. Their visas are called L-1Bs.

Applications for L-1 visa status must first be approved by the Regional USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the location where the transferred employee will be situated. The employer must send the Application for Non-Immigrant Visa and L Supplement, petition letter, supporting documentation and filing fee to the USCIS Service Center. After the CIS Service Center approves the application, the employee must apply at the US Consulate for the visa. The Consulate normally approves the application unless it believes the USCIS has been defrauded or the USCIS was not aware of important information.

Under the L-1 “blanket program”, USCIS allows certain substantial international businesses to avoid the inconvenience and delay associated with individualized L-1 petitions to USCIS before obtaining visas or before transferring between related entities to perform the same basic job.