The L1 visa is an excellent visa category for executives and managers and for specialized knowledge employees who have worked for the business outside the US for at least one year in the last three years. There must be common ownership between the US and overseas business.
For Indian and Chinese nationals who are unable to come under the E2 or E1 visa schemes the only long term US visa option may be the L1 visa. The H1B visa category is usually heavily oversubscribed when it becomes available at the beginning of April each year so is unlikely to be an option (but please see our L1 and H1B comparison page if you are considering this visa). There is currently no quota on the number of L1 visas that can be issued. Companies and their employees should therefore look carefully at the L1 visa scheme.
Q. Is there any limit on the number of L1 visas available in a year?
A. No. There is no L1 Visa Quota. However, it can be difficult and complicated obtaining an L1 visa.
Q. Can business owners enter the US using an L1 visa?
A. Yes, business owners can gain entry to the US and in many cases can gain permanent residence under the EB1C green card category. The business owners would usually meet the L1 requirements for the L1A Executive or Manager visa.
Q. Does the L1 Visa lead to permanent residence, frequently referred to as a Green Card?
A. Not exactly. However, L1A international executives and managers have to meet similar requirements to those coming under the EB1C green card category Multinational Manager or Executive. If the business has been established for one year then the manager or executive including business owners can petition for lawful permanent residence (Green Card) without having to apply for Labor Certification.
A. L-2 Visa dependant spouses can obtain a general work authorization. L2 visa dependent children cannot work but can study. L2 visa spouse work authorization must be applied for separately.
Q. Can I move L1 employees to different sites around the US?
A. Yes, provided they remain under your management and control.
Q. What are the filing fees?
A. $460.00 plus an additional USCIS Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500.00.
Q. How long does it take to get an L1 Visa?
A. Usually 2-4 months for a normal L1 visa, Payment of the premium processing fee of $1225 will substantially reduce processing time. 1-3 weeks for an L1 covered by a blanket approval.
Q. Is it possible to speed up the L1 Visa process.
A. Yes. The USCIS has instituted a program called Premium Processing. If the USCIS is paid an extra $1,225 on a separate check, the USCIS guarantees it will adjudicate the petition in 15 days or notify the petitioner if more evidence is needed in a Request for Further Evidence RFE.
Q. Can the alien come to the USA on a visitor visa such as under the visa-waiver scheme while the L1 visa petition is being processed?
A. This is possible. However, unless the employee has a visa such as the B1 in lieu of H1B visa anything that might be considered to be work after entry to the US with a visitor visa such as the visa waiver scheme is not allowed.
Q. Can L1 visa employees work part-time instead of full-time?
Q. Is there a requirement that L1 visa workers are paid the 'prevailing wage'?
A. No, but paying L1 visa workers significantly below the prevailing wage (a term used in H1B visa applications) and/or the wages of your US resident staff may result in the USCIS viewing your petition unfavourably, and may also result in investigations by the USCIS or Department of Labor.
If you would like to apply for an L1 visa through workpermit.com, please fill out our application form.
Further information, help, and advice
Workpermit.com's team of specialists has 30 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a US qualified lawyer who is typically also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).