Intra-Company Transferees (L-1A or L-1B Visas)
The L is used by multi-national corporations who wish to transfer key foreign employees to the United States or foreign entities that wish to send employees to the US to open a new branch office or subsidiary. A U.S. entity may petition for an L visa on behalf of an foreign national who has been employed for one continuous year of the three years preceding the application in an organization with a qualifying relationship to the U.S. entity. The foreign national must come to the U.S. to occupy a managerial or executive position (L-1A), or a position utilizing specialized knowledge (L-1B). Managerial duties may entail managing others who hold supervisory positions or professionals. In addition, a manager may also manage an essential function of the entity, and not necessarily other employees. Executive duties entail establishing goals and policies, exercising discretion over the corporate decision making process, etc. over the entity. An L-1B is based upon specialized knowledge, which is generally satisfied if the alien has knowledge not readily possessed by others regarding the entity’s products and their applications in the international market, or has an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company. The spouse and minor children of the L non-immigrant are permitted to accompany the alien as dependants with L-2 visa. L visa holders are allowed “dual intent,” meaning they are not required to prove they have foreign residence that they do not intend to abandon.
Some of the most important issues that come up while petitioning for an L visa are: the previous employment of the alien, the corporate relationship between the U.S. and the foreign entity, and the classification of the alien’s intended employment in the U.S. and previously with the foreign entity as either a manager, executive, or an employee with specialized knowledge.
In addition, major U.S. corporate entities having at least 1,000 employees and annual sales of at least $25 million, who are engaged in commerce or trade and have previously applied for at least ten L visas within a preceding 12-month period may qualify for a “blanket” L-1 petition. This means that there is no need to submit corporate information, entity relationships, etc. for each alien, saving a great deal of time and expense.
Canadians applying for L visa may utilize the expedited process provided by the North American Free Trade Agreement, under which a petition may be presented at most border crossings and airports where, typically, it is adjudicated on the same day.