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L-1 (Intracompany Transferee) Visas

L-1 visas are for "intra-company transferees." In short, intra-company transferees are defined as people who have worked for a foreign company in an “executive,” “managerial,” or “specialized knowledge” capacity and are being transferred to a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary (of the foreign company) in the United States to work.

L-1A visas are reserved for employees who are managers or executives, whereas,L-1B visas are reserved for “specialized knowledge” employees. The maximum stay is 7 years for L-1A (managers and executives) and 5 years for L-1B (specialized knowledge) employees.

After approval, the initial L-1 visa will be valid for 3 years. During this time, the L-1 visa holder can remain in the U.S. and legally work for the L-1 employer. After that, the employer can petition for extensions of L-1 status in 2 year increments. Thus, the validity period would be 3+2+2=7 for L-1A workers, and 3+2=5 for L-1B workers.

All L-1 visa applicants must have worked for the company affiliated with the U.S. employer for at least 1 year in the 3 years prior to the transfer to the U.S.

The spouse and children of L-1 Visa holders may apply apply for L-2 visas which will allow them to enter the U.S., work, attend school and remain in legal status during the the L-1 visa holders validity period.

An additional benefit of the L-1 visa category is that L-1 visa holders can actually apply for permanent residence while they are in L-1A status (through any valid means of sponsorship) under the doctrine of dual intent. In fact, by definition, the eligibility for the L-1A visa category is identical to that used under the EB-1 category and applicants can directly apply through the use of a Form I-140, without the need to obtain a Labor Certification. L-1B workers, however, are not automatically eligible under this category and must file for and obtain a Labor Certification under PERM.

The Corporate Relationship

The L-1 petitioner may be either the foreign company OR the U.S. company. In either case, the petitioner must meet the definition of being a "qualifying orgranization" under the regulations, which means that the petitioner is a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same employer for whom the alien beneficiary was employed abroad prior to entry in the U.S. under an L-1 visa. These four qualifying organizations are further defined as follows:

  • A Parent means a firm, corporation or other legal entity which has subsidiaries. Any business entity which has subsidiaries is a parent. The U.S. company owns 51% of the foreign company OR the applicants' foreign company owns at least 51% of the U.S. company;
  • Branch means an operating division or office of the same organization housed in a different location. Any such office or operating division, which is not established as a separated entity is considered a branch.
  • Subsidiary means a firm, corporation, or other legal entity of which a parent which owns, directly or indirectly more than half of the entity and controls the entity OR half of the entity and controls the entity OR 50 percent of a 50-50 joint venture and has equal control and veto power over the entity OR less than half of the entity, but in fact controls the entity.
  • An Affiliate means one of two subsidiaries, both of which are owned or controlled by the same parent or invidual OR one of two legal entities owned and controlled by the same group of individuals, with each individual owning and controlling approximately the same share or proportion of each entity.

Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. company and foreign employer can take the form of an annual report, articles of incorporation, financial statement or stock

Qualifications of the Applicant. The applicant must meet certain qualifications in order to be eligible for an L-1 visa, namely:

The applicant must have worked for at least one year in the foreign entity and in an executive or managerial position or in a job requiring specialized knowledge;

The applicant must be coming to the U.S. to assume an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position;

The applicant must be qualified for the position being offered him/her in the U.S. by virtue of his or her prior education and experience.

Proof that the alien meets the qualifications can take the form of a letter from the employer overseas detailing dates of employment, job duties, qualifications, and salary of the previous year, a letter from the prospective American employer giving the applicant's salary and job description, and the applicant's academic credentials. Proof that the applicant held a managerial or executive position can take the form of an organization chart, letters from the present employer, company brochures showing the applicant's position and even name cards.

Documents Needed for L-1 Visa. The following documents will be needed in order to establish the existence of the companies and that they have the qualifying relationship to each other, as well as to show the qualifications of the L-1 beneficiary:

Foreign Company U.S. Company Beneficiary

1. Articles of Incorporation;

2. Lease Agreement;

3. Occupational license;

4. Income Tax (last year);

5. Financial Statement;

6. Bank statements (last 6 months);

7. Documents showing business activity for the last 12 months (exp: Invoices and contracts)

8. Utility bills statement for the last 12 months (light, water, internet, telephone, etc.);

9. Company’s organizational chart, listing the applicant and its position at the foreign company, including his/hers subordinates;

10. Pay roll for the most recent month;

11. Advertising, brochures, pamphlets;

12. Pictures of the interior and exterior of the company.

1. Articles of Incorporation;

2. FEIN number;

3. Shares certificate;

4. Occupational License;

5. Commercial Lease Agreement;

6. Wire transfer from the bank account of the foreign company to the American company

7. Business Plan

1. Resume;

2. Diploma ( not mandatory);

3. Copies of the pay stubs for the last 12 months, showing salary and position;

4. Copy of passport, if in the U.S. copies of the I-94.

Large organizations can usually document their ownership and structure through a statement by a corporate officer or authorized official, supported by an annual report or SEC filing listing subsidiaries. This rule should apply to any publicly-traded company. If not publicly traded, we will have to submit stock ownership records. When both the U.S. company and the overseas company are majority-owned and controlled by a group of individuals, the same group of shareholders must own a controlling interest in each business, and each shareholder is that group must hold approximately the same proportion within the group

If you have questions about the L-1 visa category or if you need assistance with your L-1 visa petition, call South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel at (954) 385-3111.