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L-1 Intra-Company Transferees

Executives, managers, and specialized knowledge employees of multinational organizations are eligible for L-1 visas. There are no numerical limits on L-1 visas.

Immediately preceding the filing of the petition, the foreign national must have been employed abroad with the qualifying organization continuously for one year in the past three years. Only a one-year L-1 visa is issued to a foreign national employed by a “new” company doing business less than one year in the United States. At the end of the year, an extension is required with proof the business is ongoing and can justify the need for the employee.

  • Multinational Companies or Organizations

    Here is what Martin Lawler’s book, Professionals: A Matter of Degree, says about multinational companies or organizations:

    “The petitioner must be a multinational organization. Petitioners usually are corporations but may be religious organizations or international accounting or management firms. The petitioner must have offices in the United States and at least one other country. A contractual relationship between companies is not sufficient. A qualifying organization includes an office of the same company or a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate with common owners. One company may control another with less than a majority of stock ownership….

    The size of the business should not be relevant. However, practice shows that the USCIS applies more stringent standards to small and midsize organizations. The USCIS may question the firm’s finances and ability to pay the beneficiary. For companies with small offices in the United States, it has been common for the USCIS to refuse to recognize that the beneficiary will function as an executive or manager.”

  • Requirements
    • For intra-company transferees
    • Employer must be an international company or organization
    • Employee must have worked for the company overseas for at least one year in the past three years before arrival in the U.S.
    • U.S. job must be executive or managerial or involve specialized knowledge
    • L-1A visas for executives and managers are valid up to seven years
    • L-1B visas for specialized knowledge workers are valid up to five years
    • Spouses and minor children are eligible for L-2 visas and spouse may obtain employment authorization

Steps for obtaining an L-1 Visa

  • Step 1

    Lawler & Lawler will email a questionnaire and list of needed documents to the employer and visa applicant. We will then analyze the employer’s organizational structure to determine if it qualifies as an “international” company. The applicant’s expertise and work history are evaluated to determine whether he/she is an executive, manager or specialized knowledge worker.

  • Step 2

    Documents are gathered to prove overseas and U.S. companies are parent/subsidiary or affiliates, and to prove employee’s overseas work for the multinational firm.

  • Step 3

    We work with employer and foreign national to prepare L-1 petition and company’s supporting letter.

  • Step 4

    Petition and letter are sent to company for review and signature.

  • Step 5

    We file petition with a USCIS Service Center with a request for change of status if the applicant is in the U.S. and qualifies. USCIS issues a receipt.

  • Step 5 (Alternative)

    Employees of a company with a “blanket” L-1 petition may apply directly to the consul with Forms I-129S, DS-160, and other supporting documents. Canadians may submit an L-1 petition at the border or Canadian airport.

  • Step 6

    When the petition is approved, USCIS issues a Form I-797 approval notice. If change of status has been granted, the applicant may go to work. For international travel, the applicant must obtain an L-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate abroad (except Canadians, who are visa exempt). If the applicant is outside of the U.S., he/she takes the approval notice (Form I-797), DS-160 and a copy of the petition to the U.S. Consulate and applies for a visa stamp.

  • Step 6 (Alternative)

    Upon approval of a blanket L-1 petition, the consul stamps the Form I-129S with the petition validity dates and issues an L-1 visa stamp to the applicant. Canadians applying at the airport or a border crossing are given an I-94 card by the U.S. immigration officer denoting their L-1 status and period of stay.

  • Step 7

    If the individual is overseas, he/she must first obtain a visa stamp at the U.S. Consulate by submitting a visa application, Form DS-160, along with the Form I-797 Approval Notice and certain other documents.

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