The L Visas For International Companies And Their Employees

If you are an international company that needs to bring foreign employees to the United States, the L nonimmigrant visa might be useful to you. The L visa allows international companies that meet a few basic requirements the ability to transfer employees between parent companies, subsidiaries, branches and affiliates. We understand the often urgent need for employees to be at different locations of the business operation and are experienced in obtaining timely and successful results for those we represent. In this article we cover the basic qualifications for the L-1A and L-1B nonimmigrant visa categories.

L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager

The L-1A visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This visa also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.

In order to qualify for an L-1 visa the employer must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

Also to qualify, the named employee must:

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in an executive or managerial capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.

L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge

The L-1B visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.

To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.

Also to qualify, the named employee must:

  • Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
  • Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Specialized knowledge means special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures. Such knowledge is beyond the ordinary and not commonplace within the industry or the petitioning organization. In other words, the employee must be more than simply skilled or familiar with the employer’s interests.

Contact us today to see how we can help you.