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L-1 Visa

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is L1 Visa?
  2. What are the benefits of an L-1 Visa?
  3. Does the employer need to get a prevailing wage request?
  4. What is a "blanket L-1 petition"?
  5. What types of businesses can petition for L-1 visas?
  6. What is the difference between an L-1A and an L-1B visa?
  7. What is the definition for "Manager"?
  8. What is the definition for "Executive?
  9. What is the definition for "Specialized Knowledge"?
  10. What is the procedure for obtaining an L-1 visa?
  11. What is the L-1 application procedure for Canadians?
  12. What documentation should be provided to help get my L-1 visa petition approved?
  13. What documentation is needed once my petition is approved and I need to apply for my visa at a consulate?
  14. Can my family members work and/or go to school?
  15. Can L-1 visa holders apply for Green Card?
  16. How long does an L-1 visa last?
  17. What is the normal processing time for an L-1 application?
  18. Is there a minimum educational requirement to qualify for an L-1A visa?
  19. Does the L-1 visa offer consular processing without having USCIS approval?
  20. What are likely reasons for denial to L-1 visas?
  21. What happens if my L-1 application is denied?
  22. Can I transfer or change jobs on an L-1 visa?
  23. How do I extend my stay on an L-1 visa?
  24. What is Premium Processing?
  25. What do I need to do to maintain my L-1 visa status?
  26. Can I change my status to a different visa category once I am in the U.S.?
  27. How do I start the L-1 visa application process?

     
  1. What is L1 Visa?

    L-1 is a non-immigrant visa available to certain qualified employees of an international company with offices in both a home country and the United States, or which intends to open a new office in the United States while maintaining their home country interests and operation. The intra-company transfer visa allows qualified foreign workers to relocate to the corporation's US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one year within the last three years prior to being granted L-1 status. The US office must be a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company.

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  2. What are the benefits of an L-1 Visa?

    (a) One of the most important benefits of the L-1A visa is that the visa holder can carry "dual intent", meaning that the L-1A holder will be able to apply for permanent residency without negative impact on his or her application and for the maintenance of L-1A visa. This is one big advantage L-1 visas have over E-2 Investor's visas as E-2 visas do not specifically allow for "dual intent".

    (b) It is also very important that the L-1A holder who applies for permanent residence will be able to skip the Labor Certification, a time- and expense-consuming and highly technical procedure, for the Green Card application.

    (c) Unlike H-1B, there is no quota limit or problem to the number of L-1 visas available for issuance. Also, the processing time can be sped up to just over two weeks if you opt for the Premium Processing service.

    (d) The L-1 visa holders are permitted to travel in and out of the U.S. or remain here continuously until the L-1 status expires

    (e) Your dependents, meaning spouse and unmarried children under 21, can obtain derivative L visas.

    (f) The spouse of L-1s can apply for an Employment Authorization Card and work for any employer.

    (g) Unlike the EB-5 million-dollar investor program, L-1A holders get formal green card, rather than the conditional green card granted to EB-5 applicants, once the green card application is approved.

    (h) The minimum investment amount required for L-1 is much lower than that of the EB-5 million-dollar investor program.

    (i) L-1 companies do not face the strict 10-job creation requirement as EB-5 faces. The pressure in creating employment opportunities is relatively low in L-1.

    (j) Unlike in the H-1B and Labor Certification applications, L-1s and its following green card applications do not have the strict prevailing wage requirement either. The pressure on the company to face the stringent and frequently distorted government salary data does not exist.

    (k) Unlike H-1B which requires a person of at least a bachelor degree or its equivalent, L-1A does not have education requirement. It, on the contrary, requires only at least one year of experience within the last three years working in executive or managerial position within the system of the parent company.

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  3. Does the employer need to get a prevailing wage request?

    No, that is an additional major advantage of working in the U.S. on an L-1 visa. This is especially true in the case of the Green Card process.

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  4. What is a "blanket L-1 petition"?

    Blanket L-1 petitions are used by larger companies to transfer a greater number of employees without the tedium of sponsoring each one individually.

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  5. What types of businesses can petition for L-1 visas?

    As long as the international relationship exists and the other investment requirement is met, company of any business may apply to transfer its managers and executives to the U.S on L-1.

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  6. What is the difference between an L-1A and an L-1B visa?

    L-1A visas are specifically reserved for managers and executives and will allow the applicant to skip the Labor Certification part for the application of Green Card.

    L-1B visas are for key employees, not in management or executive positions, with specialized knowledge of the company's products and procedures. L-1B applicants are still eligible to apply for a Green Card, but they must go through the Labor Certification part.

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  7. What is the definition for "Manager"?

    "Manager" is defined as one who primarily:

    (a) Manages the organization, department, subdivision, function or component of the organization;

    (b) Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization or department or subdivision of the organization;

    (c) Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend personnel actions, or if no direct supervision, functions at a senior level within hierarchy or as to function managed; and

    (d) Exercises discretion over day-to-day operations of the activity or function.

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  8. What is the definition for "Executive?

    "Executive" is defined as one who primarily:

    (a) Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function;

    (b) Establishes goals and policies;

    (c) Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision making; and

    (d) Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, board of directors or stockholders.

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  9. What is the definition for "Specialized Knowledge"?

    A person with "specialized knowledge" is defined as one who has specialized knowledge of the company product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its application in the markets; or, as one with advanced or proprietary knowledge of the company's processes or procedures.

    Characteristics of a person with "specialized knowledge" include:

    (a) Having knowledge that is valuable to the employer's competitiveness in the market place;

    (b) Is uniquely qualified to contribute to the U.S. employer's knowledge of the foreign operating procedures;

    (c) Has been a key employee at foreign employer and has been given significant assignments which have enhanced the employer's productivity, competitiveness, image or financial position; and

    (d) Possesses knowledge that can be gained only through extensive prior experience with that employer.

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  10. What is the procedure for obtaining an L-1 visa?

    Unlike the E-2 applications, there is no direct consulate application or interview available for the L-1 applications except for the Canadians (see further explanation below). Every L-1 application/petition must firstly be filed to and be approved by the USCIS with the exception of application by Canadians.

    If an applicant is seeking to change status within the U.S., the approval from the USCIS will grant the applicant L-1 status. However, when the applicant leaves the US he/she will still need to have an L-1 visa interview at the US Consulate prior to his/her return to the US on L-1.

    If the initial application is for an applicant who is not in the US, once the USCIS approves the L-1 application/petition, the applicant must then schedule a visa interview with a consulate. Once the visa is granted by the consulate, the applicant can then enter and stay in the US with the granted visa.

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  11. What is the L-1 application procedure for Canadians?

    Unlike applicants from other countries, applicants from Canada can file their petitions for L-1 visa status at a port of entry on the U.S.-Canada land border or at a United States pre-clearance/pre-flight station in Canada. In the event the petition is approved by the border office or the station, the beneficiary (L-1 employee) will be issued a stamped I-94 (Arrival Departure Record) showing the approved authorized stay period. The border office will then send the L-1 petition to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center (NSC). The NSC will issue a filing fee receipt, and then issue an approval notice to the petitioner or to the attorney.

    Despite of this convenience, however, the content of the petition field to the border office or the station is same as other L-1 petitions filed to the USCIS. In other words, the petition must contain all required documents and filing fees as petitions filed to the USCIS.

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  12. What documentation should be provided to help get my L-1 visa petition approved?

    The documentation required for L-1 application is extensive. However, along with the L-1 petition letter, the petitioner must submit at least documents from the foreign parent or affiliated company, the US company, and the beneficiary (the transferred manager) to prove all the facts required under the immigration regulations.

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  13. What documentation is needed once my petition is approved and I need to apply for my visa at a consulate?

    For the visa application at the US consulate, the documentation required is relatively simple. The visa applicant must provide:

    (a) Form DS-160;

    (b) One recent passport size photograph;

    (c) A passport, valid for travel to the U.S. for at least six months longer than your intended visit;

    (d) The USCIS L-1 Approval Notice;

    (e) Copy of Form I-129 and the L-1 petition package for Nonimmigrant visa. This petition is filed with the USCIS by the employer and must be approved before the visa applicant can apply for L-1 Visa.

    (e) Family members must provide documents like marriage certificate or birth certificate to prove the family relationship

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  14. Can my family members work and/or go to school?

    Your spouse will be eligible to work once he/she receives his/her EAD. Minor children will be able to attend public and private school in the US, but may not be employed.

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  15. Can L-1 visa holders apply for Green Card?

    Yes, this is one of the most distinct advantages L-1 visa has over E-2 visa. L-1 visa allows for "dual intent", meaning that the visa-holders are allowed to enter the country on the visa with the eventual purpose of applying for permanent residency.

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  16. How long does an L-1 visa last?

    The initial L-1 visa is granted for one year for a new company. If the US company is not new and has been existing for over a year, the initial visa period can be as long as three years. The initial one-year restriction to a new company essentially is to ensure that the business and the applicant meet all requirements, the business is viable, the employee is performing managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge duties as stated in petition, and are running a legitimate business. After that, renewals can be made in 3-year increments up to a total period of 7 years for L-1A, and 5 years for L-1B.

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  17. What is the normal processing time for an L-1 application?

    The normal processing time for an L-1 application can range from 2 months to 4 or 5 months under the normal application, and can be sped up to two weeks if premium processing is requested.

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  18. Is there a minimum educational requirement to qualify for an L-1A visa?

    No, there is no minimum educational requirement. However, if you are coming over as a manager you must have worked for the parent company or a company affiliated with the parent company as an Executive or Manager over at least 1 year within the last 3 years. A corresponding educational background certainly helps the application.

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  19. Does the L-1 visa offer consular processing without having USCIS approval?

    No, the L-1 petition must be processed by USCIS first. If the employee is outside of the United States, the employee must be interviewed at a consulate/embassy based on the USCIS approval to receive the actual L-1 visa.

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  20. What are likely reasons for denial to L-1 visas?

    The USCIS and the Consulate have discretion to the approval and denial to all L-1 applications. In other words, they can deny the applications on any ground they deem suitable. Frequently seen ground of denial includes when the officer determines the foreign parent company and U.S. company that files the L-1 petition are not qualified. Another frequently seen ground of denial is if the job duties to be performed by the employees do not meet the required for L-1A or L-1B requirement.

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  21. What happens if my L-1 application is denied?

    The USCIS typically does not deny an application outright. Instead, the office will issue a Request for Additional Evidence and allow the petitioner to supplement the application. As long as the RFE is appropriately addressed and responded, the case will still be approved.

    In the event a petition for change of status is denied by the USCIS, depends on whether the beneficiary is still in status, he/she may have to leave the US immediately. If the beneficiary is till in other status, he/she may still stay in the US on the current unexpired status.

    If an application was denied after interview, the consulate will notify DHS/USCIS of their opinion that the underlying petition be revoked. The USCIS may reaffirm its approval, or accept the revocation of the consulate. Depending on the nature and reasons for the petition being revoked, either by the USCIS or by the consulate, the company may be eligible to re-apply (after correcting the errors, of course).

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  22. Can I transfer or change jobs on an L-1 visa?

    As long as you continue to work for a qualifying member of the multinational group (one of its other branches, a subsidiary, or an affiliate company) you will be allowed to transfer. If you submitted an individual L-1 petition, USCIS must be notified of the change in employment. If you entered on a blanket petition you do not need to notify USCIS.

    If you plan on working for a completely different employer you must apply for a different visa, as you cannot do so under the L-1 visa.

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  23. How do I extend my stay on an L-1 visa?

    Extending your stay on the L-1 visa is similar to the initial petition process through USCIS. You still need to submit Forms I-129 with the L Supplement, as well as new versions of the supporting documents (tax returns, organizational charts, company payroll, etc.) which will establish that your company is meeting the requirements of the L-1 visa. L-1A holders can extend their stay up to 7 years and L-1B holders can extend up to 5 years.

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  24. What is Premium Processing?

    Premium Processing is a service that USCIS offers where certain petitions are eligible for faster processing (a guarantee of within 15 days) if the applicant pays a fee of $1,225.00. The L-1 visa is eligible for Premium Processing.

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  25. What do I need to do to maintain my L-1 visa status?

    Maintaining your status and meeting the requirements of the L-1 visa are critical if you plan on extending your stay. You must be able to document your managerial or executive capacity and duties, the payment and receipt of salary, and that the business is real, operating, and viable by meeting or close to meeting the projections targeted in the first petition.

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  26. Can I change my status to a different visa category once I am in the U.S.?

    Yes, provided you have not fallen out of status and are eligible for the desired visa or status category.

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  27. How do I start the L-1 visa application process?

    Contacting Lin & Valdez LLP for a consultation after visiting our website is the best way to start your L-1 visa application journey. Attorneys and staff at Lin & Valdez will try our best to make sure your journey is smooth and fruitful.

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