What Is An L-1 Visa And What Are The Requirements?

The United States L-1 visa, also known as an Inter-Company Transferee Visa, is available to employees of an international company that has offices in both the United States and abroad. The visa allows qualified foreign workers to relocate to the corporation’s U.S.-based office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one continuous year within the previous three prior to admission in the U.S. Importantly, the U.S. and non-U.S. employers must be related in one of the following four ways: 1) parent and subsidiary; 2) branch and headquarters; 3) sister companies owned by a mutual parent; or 4) affiliates.

Although the visa was initially designed for multi-national companies, it also provides small or start-up companies the opportunity to expand their business and services to the United States market. As such, the L-1 classification enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an employee to the United States to help in the formation or establishment of a U.S. office.

The L-1 visa has two subcategories: L-1A for executives and managers, and L-1B for workers with specialized knowledge. L-1A status is valid for up to 7 years and L-1B status is good for a maximum of 5 years.  The L-1 visa also entitles a spouse and minor unmarried child (under age 21) to derivative L-2 status.  Spouses of L-1 visa holders may apply for work authorization without restriction.

One of the privileges of the L-1 visa, as opposed to many other non-immigrant visas, is that it is a ‘dual intent’ visa. This means that the L-1 visa holder may apply for a Green Card and become a permanent resident without jeopardizing his or her L-1 visa status or their visa applications from a U.S. consular office abroad.  Other positive attributes of the L-1 visa include: 1) that there are no yearly limitations on the number of L-1’s that can be approved; 2) there are no specific wage requirements for L-1A employees; and 3) there are no requirements for the individual employee to possess a four-year college degree.

At the Shulman Law Group, LLC, our attorneys are available to consult with both employers and employees to discuss their options and eligibility for an L-1 visa.  We consult with companies considering or initiating the establishment of new offices in the United States with regard to L-1 related planning for staffing a new office, we help executives from multi-national companies to assist their employees with the Inter-Company Transferee visa, and work closely with the individual employees to ensure that the filing requirements are met and the application process is effectuated smoothly and successfully.