L-1 Visa

L-1 VISA

U.S. immigration policy can be very protective concerning even the temporary admission of foreign workers. This can pose a problem for companies that operate in multiple countries and need to maintain mobility in their high-level workforces. Thankfully, immigration authorities are aware of these issues, and in response, have instituted the L-1 visa program for intracompany transferee employees seeking to work in the United States. At Rai Law, our attorneys have assisted businesses throughout the United States in understanding all the features this program has to offer and how they can take full advantage of it to increase their productivity and decrease their administrative burden.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to petition for its employees, a business must be a “qualifying organization” as defined by U.S. immigration law. This means the petitioning business must be a corporation, firm, or otherwise exist in the form of a business enterprise legal entity. The law further requires that the entity is actually doing business as a U.S. employer and minimum one other country. Additionally, an employer-employee relationship must exist for the petitioner and the petitioned.

In other words, the U.S. business is required to be the boss of the individual petitioned from abroad. L1 visa employees are also required to have been employed by the foreign business for a minimum of one year within the past three years preceding the filing of the visa petition. It is not necessary for the L1 visa employee to work in the exact same capacity within the U.S. as she or he worked for the foreign entity but the employee must come to work in an executive or managerial position or possess specialized knowledge that is not available to the U.S. business from a U.S. worker. Once L1 visa applications are approved, they remain valid for five years for specialized knowledge type individuals and seven years for managers and executives

L-1A Visa

The L-1A intra-company transferee classification applies to qualified executives and managers within multinational companies. These individuals can be transferred from their foreign employer to work for up to seven years in the United States for an appropriately affiliated U.S. company. The company must continue to operate as a multinational company for the duration of the employee’s L1A status.

Classification as executive or managerial is appropriate for employees who are primarily responsible for: directing management or managing an organization, department, subdivision, or component of the company. It is also possible to qualify by demonstrating that the employee has supervisory responsibilities over professional or managerial employees or manages an essential function within the organization. This classification is not appropriate for low level managers. There are NO annual limitations on the number of L1As that can be approved, and there are NO specific wage requirements for L1A employees.

L-1B Visa

The L-1B Specialized Knowledge Professional classification applies to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. These individuals can be transferred from their foreign employer to work for up to seven years in the United States for an appropriately affiliated U.S. company.

The company must continue to operate as a multinational company for the duration of the employee’s L1B status. Specialized knowledge professional means an individual who has specialized knowledge as defined above and is a member of the professions including but not limited to architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academies, or seminaries.

L-1 Blanket Petition

Companies that process numerous employee transfers can file for blanket approval which will allow them to do so with one immigration petition and thereby avoid numerous distinct applications. In order to be eligible as a blanket petition employer, the petitioner must meet the following requirements:

  1. All qualifying organizations withing the international structure of the petitioner must be engaged in commercial trade or services.
  2. The petitioner must have an office in the United States that has been doing business for at least one year (no new-office situation).
  3. The petitioner must have at least three domestic or foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates.
  4. Among all of qualifying organizations within the petitioner’s organization, one of the following must be present –
    • At least 10 L-1 apporvals in the past year for exuctives, managers or professionals with specialized knowledge, or
    • U.S. sales of at least $25 million, or
    • U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

Advantages

Unlike other types of visas for temporary workers, L-1A and L-1B visas do not require the petitioner to obtain a Labor Certification or Labor Condition Application from the U.S. Department of Labor. As a second benefit, certain companies that have had offices in the United States for at least one year may qualify for blanket L-1 visa approval, reducing the time required for processing individual applications as long as they meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Have applied for and received at least 10 L-1 visas in the last year.
  2. Have combined annual sales of $25 million in the United States.
  3. Have at least 1,000 employees in the United States.

Limits

The L-1 visa program is not available to all employees. Only executives and managers (L-1A) or employees with unique knowledge of the employer’s products or operations (L-1B) can qualify. In this way, the L-1 program cannot be used to circumvent U.S. Department of Labor requirements for rank-and-file workers. U.S. immigration authorities specifically cracked down on L-1B visas in recent years, especially in relation to employers who subcontract L-1B workers to other companies in the United States.

To avoid this, U.S. immigration law nowadays stipulates that a third-party company cannot principally supervise L-1B workers. L-1 visa authorizations are initially valid for three years (one year if the employee is opening a new office), but they are renewable for increments of two years for a maximum of seven years for L-1A holders and five years for L-1B holders. Immediate family members may enter and live in the United States under L-2 visas. Spouses living in the United States under L-2 visas may apply for authorization to work in the United States during their stays.

How We Can Help Obtain Your L-1 Visa

In the right circumstances L-1 visas can be a great alternative to a H1B visas. Unlike the H1B visa, there are no education requirements, quotas, or prevailing wage issues. Attorneys at Rai Law understands the importance of successfully obtaining an L-1A, L-1B, or Blanket L visa and will help you navigate the USCIS L-1 visa process. Although the L-1 visa process is relatively straightforward, all L-1 visas — whether they are L-1A visas, L-1B visas, Blanket L visas, or L-1 visa extensions — do require a strong strategy, careful attention to detail, and strong communication. With these elements in place, the process is often easier and less stressful than many of our clients expect.

We use our vast experience to walk clients through the L-1 visa process step-by-step. We listen. We address your concerns. We help you gather the required information and documentation. And then we carefully prepare all the letters and forms needed to obtain your L-1 visa. We’ll communicate with both the employer and the employee throughout the process, and with USCIS while the application is pending.

Our L-1 visa attorneys experience benefits you in several key areas. We:

  • Clarify options and potential scenarios surrounding your visa.
  • Assist you with collecting the proper documentation.
  • Correctly classify the application and ensure requirements are met.
  • Prepare and submit all USCIS forms and documentation.
  • Communicate with USCIS.
  • Monitor the entire application process from start to finish.

L-1 Visa Attorney Experience & Responsiveness that Makes a Difference. Our L-1 Attorney Pledge:

  • 100% commitment to processing your L-1 Visa quickly & successfully.
  • Strong L-1 Visa attorney experience & knowledge.
  • Open L-1 Attorney communication & responsiveness is among our top priority.
  • Highest level of L-1 Visa Attorney service at an affordable FLAT rate.
  • Some L-1 Visa applications can be submitted in as little as 1-2 weeks.
  • To discuss your case call: (415)-693-9131 or Mail Us.
Something very important you may want to know

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 1
    What will Family of L1 Workers get?

    An employee transferring to the U.S. on an L1 visa may also bring his or her spouse as well as any children under the age of 21. These family members must apply for L-2 non-immigrant classification. Once approved, they will be eligible to remain in the U.S. for the same amount of time as the L1 employee. Spouses who wish to work in the U.S. during their stay may also apply for work authorization by filing an Application for Employment Authorization.

  2. 2
    What procedures must an L visa applicant follow?

    It is important to note that as recent as 2015 several updated protocols and standards were announced by the immigration authorities that must be carefully followed in order to reduce the likelihood of a denial of the L1 visa petition. Because of this, the use of an experienced L1 visa lawyer has become even more valuable.

    The first step in obtaining L1 visa application approval is for the U.S. employer to file Form I-129 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and pay the $325 filing fee and a $500 fraud prevention and detection fee. An additional $1,225 can be paid for “premium processing,” which allows for a decision within 15 calendar days from USCIS. Once the I-129 has been approved, the worker will file the DS-160 with their local consulate or embassy and will receive the L1 visa and can then travel to the U.S. where they will obtain employment authorization.

  3. 3
    Do I need to have a Bachelor’s Degree to qualify for an L-1 visa?

    No. Unlike the H-1B visa there is no minimum or prevailing wage that an employer must pay an employee working in L-1A or L-1B Visa status, and the employee’s salary can be paid by either the United States company or the foreign company.

  4. 4
    How long can I maintain L-1 status?

    Upon approval, the first L-1 visa is valid for three (3) years during which an individual in L-1 status can legally work for the sponsoring employer. After that, L-1 extensions are available in two (2) year increments. An L-1B visa can be extended once, for a total of five (5) years of eligibility. An L-1A Visa can be extended twice, in two year increments, for a total of seven (7) years of eligibility.

    Additionally employees who enter in L-1B status and are promoted to managerial or executive roles can change into L-1A status and stay in the United States for the full 7 years. In this instance, the change of status petition must be approved by USCIS at least 6 months before the expiration of the beneficiary’s 5 years of L-1B status.

  5. 5
    Can I apply for a green card (permanent residency) in L-1 status?

    Yes. Individuals with L-1 visas can apply for permanent residency while in L-1 status. In fact, one of the major benefits of the L-1A visa is that individuals in L-1A status can apply for a green card without filing a PERM Labor Certification. Individuals in L-1B status will still need to complete a labor certification to obtain a green card through employment.

  6. 6
    Are there any quotas or caps for L-1 Visas?

    No. Unlike the H-1B Visa category there is no limit on the number of L-1A and L-1B Visas that can be issued.

  7. 7
    How long does it take?

    Turnaround time really depends on how long it takes our clients to gather the information required to submit an application. Generally turnaround time is 7 days once we have all the required information. Visa approval time depends on USCIS and the method of processing. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to receive a decision on applications submitted via regular processing. With Premium Processing it can take up to 15 calendar days for USCIS to make a decision.

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