L-1 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

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l-1 intracompany transferee visa FAQWe are one of the few law firms in the country that practice both business and immigration law; we get your needs. Our firm is about half and half so we have a very deep understanding of the business world and what you will require to make the L1 work for you.

The L-1 intracompany transferee visa allows you, as an executive or high-level manager who has worked for a foreign company for at least one year, to establish or transfer to a subsidiary, branch, or affiliate office in the United States. Please note: The L-1A is for executives and managers; this page does not deal with the L-1B is for persons with specialized knowledge  (that visa lasts a maximum of 5 years and does not lead to a Green Card).

The L-1 intracompany transferee visa allows you to stay in the United States, initially, for three years, or for only one if you are establishing or working in a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliate office. However, the visa may be renewed in three-year increments with a maximum of seven allowable years total. If you are an employee applying for the visa with specialized knowledge, you are only allowed five years total in the U.S. But the L-1A intracompany transferee visa offers a nice perk -- it may serve as the starting point for a Green Card. See the Green Card section below for more information.

In order to apply for the L-1 intracompany transferee visa, you must be an executive or high-level manager of a company that is either opening a new branch, subsidiary, or affiliate office in the United States, or transferring to an already existing office or location. You may be a citizen of any foreign country. You must have worked for the company outside of the U.S. for a full year prior to applying for the visa. Please visit our L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa Eligibility page for a full list of the eligibility requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does the L1 visa require me to invest a million dollars?

No. The L1 visa is one of a trio of options for the foreign investor, the other two being the E2 visa and the EB5 Green Card.

2. Is it better than the E2 visa?

It is different. I would consider it the brother of the E2 however. The requirements for both are very similar. The difference between the 2 is that the L1 has the requirement that you worked for the parent company for one year before applying; the E2 does not have that requirement. The L1 allows you to apply for a Green Card, whereas the E2 is meant to never have you apply for the Green Card, although there is one interesting exception (however you need to own a second company in another country).

3. In order to apply for the L1 visa do I need to have worked for the foreign company?

Yes. In the past three years you must have worked for one year with the parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the US company that is filing the case for you (also called the petitioning company).  Watch our video for a full

4. Can the L1 visa company be a non-profit?

Yes. It can be a religious company, a profit or a nonprofit firm.

5. Can the L1 company abroad be shelf or silent company?

Absolutely not. It must be fully active, and your position with that company must be an active one as well.

6. Do I have to work for the US company full-time for an L1 visa?

First of all, as with all visas, there is a temporariness requirement. Even though you can apply for a Green Card after you had your L1 visa for a year, you are not meant to enter the US in order to remain permanently (watch our video for a full explanation of this). Second, although you do not have to work full-time for this company in the US, in order to qualify for an L-1 visa, you need to spend a “significant portion of time”; otherwise, there is no need for you in the United States, if you understand the concept we are explaining. In order to win the case we need to show the company requires your services.

If you are coming to the US as an executive or manager (L1-A), then you must continue in that role; if you enter as a person with specialized knowledge (L-1B), the L1 requires that you continue in that capacity.

7. Can I still apply for a Green Card if I am in the US on an L1 visa?

Yes you can. In fact, if you enter on an L1A, you can apply for a Green Card in as little as one year from when you enter on the L1A. The L1 is  what is called a dual intent visa, meaning you can remain in the United States on an L1 visa while ‘simultaneously’ applying for a Green Card; in fact, the beneficiary of the L1 does not have to keep a residence in their foreign country.

Do any other laws or regulations control the L1 visa?
Yes. At this time, Executive Order 13788, Buy American and Hire American, that took effect April 18th of 2017, will affect the case. When deciding the L1 visa cases, the officer has to consider the spirit of the Executive Order, which is to create higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers.

8. Can I have been working my one year for the company in inside the US in order to qualify for the L1 visa?

Good question; no, this requirement has to be satisfied by working outside of the country. There are some exceptions with respect to some of the time in the U.S. but they are very technical.

9. What if I was in the U.S. on a different visa like the H1b for several years; do I now lose out because it exceeded the 3-year requirement of working abroad?

No, if you stay was permissible it will not interrupt it. The key to this one is that the companies must have had the qualifying relationship at the time, one cannot, for example, purchase or acquire the other at this time, it has to before the fact, not after.

10. What if own the parent company and want to apply for the L1 visa, can I do it?

Yes. Your own company is allowed to petition for you; you do not have to work for a large multinational. However, if your own company is petitioning (ie sponsoring) you, then you must demonstrate that your time in the US will be temporary and you will return when your job is done.

11. If I have an L1B visa, can I be outsourced to other companies?

Yes, but you have to meet a number of strict requirements.

12. What should be the form of the petitioning (sponsoring) company for an L1 visa?

The organization can be an (a):  “organization, corporation, company, partnership, association, trust, foundation or fund; and includes a group of persons, whether or not incorporated, permanently or temporarily associated together with joint action on any subject or subjects.”

13. Does the parent company have to own the affiliate, subsidiary or branch 100% for an L1 visa?

No, a simple majority will do.

14. What if I want an L1 visa but I am going to work for the US operation but will still be an employee of the home country company and paid from there?

That will not work. For an L1 visa the work of the employee and the control of the employee must be U.S. based.

15. What if the U.S. company for which I will work on my L1 visa is a new operation?

In that case, you will have to send photographs of the physical premises, as well as other documentary proof such as the lease.

16. Can I get an L1 visa so that it allows me to be self-employed in the U.S., so I can then close the foreign operation when I arrive?

That will not work. The L1 visa is not at all meant to create self-employment, especially given the Executive Order mentioned above. Also, the foreign entity must be in full operation while the U.S. worker is in the U.S. on an L1 visa.

17. If I am in the U.S. on an L1B visa, do I need to leave the U.S. to apply for a Green Card.

Not necessarily, but you will not be able to avoid the Labor Certification process as the L1A do under the Green Card category EB1. This takes substantially longer and will affect you in a number of ways.

18. What is a person with Specialized Knowledge for the purposes of an L1B visa?

The law states: (B) For purposes of section 1101(a)(15)(L) of this title, an alien is considered to be serving in a capacity involving specialized knowledge with respect to a company if the alien has a special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets or has an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company.

If you would like us to ascertain whether you qualify as a person with Specialized Knowledge for L1B purposes, call us at (619) 677-5727 and we can evaluate your personal facts for you.

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