Are you ready to take your company “global”? If so, L-1 visas provide an excellent way for small or new overseas companies to expand their operations into the U.S., allowing companies to make optimal use of their existing workforce. With an L-1 visa, an overseas company can transfer a manager or executive experienced in the company’s operations and its goals for its U.S. operations. Larger companies can benefit from using L-1 visas to give their employees international experience and from having the flexibility to send super-star employees to work in the world’s largest economy.
The L-1 category generally requires that the U.S. company the employer is seeking to move its employee to must be the parent, child or sister company of that employer. Non-profits and religious or charitable groups may also obtain L-1 visas for their workers. Foreign nationals receiving L-1 visas need not be full-time employees, but they must spend a substantial amount of time on a regular basis on the work of that employer.
There are two categories of L-1 visas, L-1A visas for executives and L-1B visas for specialized workers.
L-1A visa – Intra-company Transferee Executive or Manager
L-1(a) visas are designed for intra-company executive transferees coming to work in the United States. The L-1A visa holders must have been employed in an executive or managerial capacity for the foreign company at an overseas location continuously for at least one year out of the past three years. In addition, the L-1A visa allows a company which does not currently have a U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States in order to establish one. L-1A visa is granted initially for one year for a new company in the US or three years for a US company with more than one year in existence, with extensions available in two-year increments, with a total stay not to exceed seven years.
L-1B visa – Intra-company Transferee Specialized Knowledge
L-1(b) are designed for professional employees with specialized knowledge. An example of specialized knowledge personnel would be an individual who possesses proprietary knowledge about a company’s product and who travels to the U.S. to impart his or her specialized knowledge to new U.S. employees. In addition, companies who currently do not have an office in the United States can use the L-1B visa to send over an employee with specialized knowledge to help establish one. An L-1B visa is issued initially for three years with one two-year extension for a maximum of five years stay.
In both cases, the U.S. company and foreign company must be related in a specific way such through a parent/subsidiary relationship or through an affiliated employer.
What About My Family?
Under the same restrictions that apply to the “L-1 worker”, dependents (i.e. spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of L-1 workers are entitled to accompany L-1 workers to the U.S. Dependent children may become students in the U.S., and spouses may obtain employment authorization to work in the U.S. as well. Currently, there is no annual cap on the number of L-1 visas that are issued.
To find out if you qualify for the L-1 visa category, contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our U.S. licensed Immigration lawyers.