- Introduction to L1 visas
- Can my company make L1 visa applications?
- Do we qualify for a 'blanket' L1 petition?
- Does the candidate qualify for an L1visa?
- I want to apply for an L1 visa
- FAQ for L1 visas
The United States L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to the US operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.
Companies operating in the US, may apply to the relevant USCIS service center for an L1 visa to transfer someone to the US from their overseas operations. Employees in this category will, initially, be granted an L1 visa for up to three years.
There are two types of employee who may be sponsored for L1 visas:
The legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in 2 year increments to a maximum of 7 years.
- Specialized Knowledge Staff
This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staff in this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for three years extendible to a maximum of five years.
On completing the maximum allowable period in L1 status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.
Any organization which is 'doing business' (i.e. has more than simply an agent or representative presence) in the United States can sponsor an L1 visa, provided that the candidate qualifies in either L1A or L1B category, and that the sponsoring organization continues to carries on doing business outside the United States for the duration of the worker's L1 status. There is no restriction on the types of business that can sponsor an L1 visa – corporations, partnerships, government-owned entities and non-profit organizations are all eligible. Nor is it a requirement that the sponsoring organization be United States-owned or incorporated. It is, however, a requirement that there is some equity or ownership link between the transferor organization and the transferee organization in the United States.
In order to sponsor an application for an L1 visa:
- A foreign parent must own at least 50% of a US subsidiary, and have veto powers over the subsidiary's actions;
- A US parent must own must own at least 50% of the foreign subsidiary, and have veto powers over the subsidiary's actions;
- Affiliate US and foreign companies must each be at least 50% owned by the same ultimate parent;
- A US organization with a branch office abroad qualifies, as does a foreign organization with a US branch (though this must be more than simply an agent or representative);
- A US organization which employs e.g. sales personnel overseas can sponsor such employees for L1's even if there is no non-US office.
Note that the ownership requirements are not as strict in the case of vary large corporations, where a substantial minority shareholding will be a qualifying relationship.
Organizations which have been doing business in the United States for a minimum of one year and:
- Are engaged in commercial trade or services (i.e. charities, etc., do not qualify for a ' blanket);
- Have at least 3 offices in the US and overseas; and
- Have either:
- Sponsored at least 10 successful individual L1 petitions in the last 12 months;
- US annual sales exceeding $25,000,000; or
- A US work force of at least 1000 employees.
can include an unlimited number of qualifying foreign parents, subsidiaries, affiliates or branch offices in a 'blanket' petition. If approved, a blanket petition considerably speeds up subsequent L1 visa applications (from 4-6 weeks to about 10 days), which are processed at the US consulate in the employee's own country rather than by the USCIS in the United States. The transferring employee of a foreign organization covered by the blanket petition merely has to prove his/her own eligibility as an Executive/Manager or a Specialized Knowledge Worker, rather than both this and the relationship between the US and foreign employers. However, note that a 'specialized knowledge worker coming to the US under a blanket L1 approval must be a professional.
All L1 employees must have been employed by the your company outside of the USA for at least one of the three years preceding the transfer unless the beneficiary of a blanket. It does not matter if the worker was directly employed by the sponsor, or paid through an agency or personal service company, or even on a freelance basis, provided the sponsor had management and control over the worker during the qualifying year.
The employee must have been employed during the qualifying year as an executive, manager, or specialized knowledge worker, though it permissible for a specialized knowledge worker to come to the United States as a Manager or Executive, and for a manager or executive to come as a specialized knowledge worker, provided the US operation has been doing business for at least one year.
As noted previously, the 'standard of proof' for managers and executives is quite strict – they must generally supervise other professional or managerial staff and/or direct and control the day-to-day operations of a significant function, unit or subdivision of the employer. Specialized knowledge workers, however, qualify relatively easily – any employee with familiarity with the employer's specific products, procedures or methods may qualify.
You complete our on-line appraisal form
workpermit.com considers the application. If your company, the position and the candidate are eligible for an L1 visa, workpermit.com e-mail to you
a. A formal instruction form to return
b. Details of any additional data required, and confirmation of which documents we need
You post documents to workpermit.com at 11 Bolt Court, London EC4A 3DQ
workpermit.com compiles and submits your petition to the BCIS at the appropriate Regional Service Center
After 2 to 3 months the petition is approved, and the Notice of Approval is returned to you, these are then taken to the relevant US consulate by the candidate for issue of the L1 visa. workpermit.com will provide full instructions and forms, and in some instances can arrange for visa issuance
Q. Is there any limit on the number of L1 visas available in a year?
Q. Can spouses and children of L1 visa-holders work in the USA?
A. L-2 dependant sposes can now obtain a general work authorization. L-2 children cannot work. This work authorization must be applied for separately, though.
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. $190.00 plus an additional USCIS Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500.00.
Q. How long does it take to get an L1?
A. Usually 2-4 months for a normal L1, 1-3 weeks for an L1 covered by a blanket approval.
Q. Is it possible to speed up the process.
A. Yes. USCIS has instituted a program called Premium Processing. If USCIS is paid an extra $1,000 on a separate check, USCIS guarantees it will adjudicate the petition in 15 days or notify the petitioner if more evidence is needed.
Q. Can the alien come to the USA on a visitor visa or visa-waiver while the L1 petition is being processed?
A. This is possible but not advisable, and under no accounts should the alien risk putting in jeopardy the issue of an L1 visa by engaging in anything that might be construed as work, as this may lead to the alien being accused of visa-fraud either on entry to the US with a visitor visa/visa-waiver or when applying for an L1 visa at the US consulate in their own country.
Q. Can L1 employees work part-time?
Q. Is there a requirement that I pay L1 workers the 'prevailing wage'?
A. No, but paying L1 workers significantly below the prevailing wage and/or the wages of your US resident staff is likely to result in USCIS viewing your petition unfavourably, and may also result in investigations by USCIS or Department of Labor.