An L-1 Visa is one of the employment based visas. It is available for managerial employee with specialized knowledge from an overseas company to work at a related entity in the United States. The purpose of the L1 visa is to transfer employees from overseas related entities to the United States in specialized knowledge, managerial, or executive capacities. Alternatively, an L1 visa can also be pursued by entrepreneurs to start a business in the U.S. If you are interested in an L visa, please contact our Chicago Immigration Lawyers to schedule a consultation.
L-1 Visa for Entrepreneurs or Managerial Workers
There are three types of L visas:
- L-1-A is for intracompany transferees or entrepreneurs;
- L-1-B is for someone with specialized knowledge.
- L-2 is the accompanying visa that spouses and children under 21 years old receive with the worker.
L-1 Visa Validity
The L-1 visa is initially issued for one year when the US business enterprise is less than a year old or for up to 3 years for US businesses older than 1 year. The visa will be extended after the initial issuance in two and three-year increments for a maximum of seven years in total for L-1A and 5 years in total for L-1B. It is important to note that a L-1 extension application must be filed before the initial L-1 status expires.
A big advantage of the L-1A visa is that it is almost identical to the requirements for the EB-1C green card case.
For all L-1 visa petitions, there must be a qualifying relationship between the US employer and overseas employer including a parent-subsidiary relationship, affiliate relationship, branch office relationship, or joint venture relationship. Once the qualifying relationship is established, the qualifying overseas employment and proposed US employment must be established (i.e. specialized knowledge (L-1B Visa), managerial, or executive (L-1A Visa).
Requirement of L-1 visa for Intracompany transferees or Business Owners (L-1A Visa)
To qualify for an L-1A visa, the following must be established:
- The intracompany transferee, within three years preceding the time of application, must have been employed in a managerial or executive role abroad continuously for one out of the last three years by a corporation or other legal entity or parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary; and
- he/she seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to render his or her services to a branch of the same overseas employer or a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary company thereof in a manager or executive capacity.
- Establishing managerial or executive capacity as defined under the Immigration & Nationality Act is required.
Requirement of L-1 Visa for Specialized Knowledge Employee (L-1B Visa)
To qualify for a L-1-B visa, the following must be established:
- The special knowledge employee must have within three years preceding the time of application been employed in a specialized knowledge role abroad continuously for one out of the last three years by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary; and
- he/she seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to render his or her services to a branch of the same employer or a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary company thereof in a specialized knowledge capacity.
Definition of “Special Knowledge”
The term “special knowledge” means either 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 an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
L-2 Dependent Visas
L-2 Visas are available to the spouses and the unmarried children under the age of 21 of L-1 Visa holders. Spouses of L-1 visa holders are permitted to work, however the minor children under the age of 21 are not.
Advantages of L-1 Visa over other Non-Immigrant Work Visas
- Unlimited amount of L-1 Visas available each year.
- No prevailing wage requirement;
- Available to small and large businesses. L-1 visa petitions for new U.S. based or small overseas businesses are generally scrutinized in more detail by USCIS.
- L-1 visas are an excellent visa in some situations as the requirements are very similar to an EB-1C Executive Transferee Green Card. Presumably if the L-1 visa requirements can be proven, then an EB-1 Green Card may be a possibility.
L-1 Visa & Blanket Status for Large Companies
Large Companies may obtain L-1 Blanket Status which allows large US companies that require frequent transferring of non-US employees to do so with one blanket L-1 Petition. Individuals will still need a petition, but blanket status will still eliminate much of the paperwork.
Important development of L-1 Visa
In recent years, USCIS has adjudicated L-1 visa in a strict manner, probably due to a large number of fraudulent applications in the past few years, as well as the rules and restrictions surrounding the L-1 Visa is extremely complicated. Thus, it is important that you engage a skilled attorney to lay out a clear strategy in light of the law and your particular circumstances. A properly thought out case and strong filing with supporting evidence are essential for an L-1 Visa Petition.
Hire an experienced Chicago Immigration Lawyer for your L-1 visa
Proving “managerial capacity” and other L-1 requirements are crucial to the success of a L-1 visa. With over 30 years of collective experience representing foreign managers/executives and entrepreneurs to expand their businesses in the U.S, our Chicago L-1 immigration lawyer can assist you. Contact the Cipolla Law Group today and learn how our immigration law firm can strategically plan and represent your L-1 visa petition. We are conveniently located in Chicago, Illinois.