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USCIS application procedures: L-1 Intra-Company Transferee

The L-1 visa is generally issued for a period of three (3) years

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USCIS application procedures: L-1 Intra-Company Transferee
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L-1 Intra-Company Transferee

An L-1 visa may be issued to an alien who, within three (3) years preceding the time of his or her application for admission into the United States, has been employed continuously for one year by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to continue to render his or her services to the same employer or a subsidiary or affiliate thereof in a capacity that is managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge, and the alien spouse and minor children of any such alien if accompanying or following to join the principal alien.

In order to qualify for the L-1 visa the alien must have been employed abroad for one (1) year, out of the last three (3) years, by the company that is petitioning for his or her services, or by a subsidiary or affiliate thereof.

This does not mean that the alien must have been abroad continuously during this time, but only that he or she had been employed by that foreign company on a continuing basis for at least one of the preceding three (3) years.

Furthermore, the alien's employment abroad, together with his or her intended employment in the United States, must be in a capacity that is executive, managerial, or involves specialized knowledge. There is no requirement that the position abroad and the position in the United States be identical.

To qualify as a manager the alien must:
  • (a) manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • (b) supervise and control the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or manage an "essential function" within the organization;
  • (c) have the authority to hire and fire or, if there are no subordinates, function at a senior level within the organization; and
  • (d) exercise discretion over the day-to-day operations of his or her function.
First line supervisors cannot qualify for L-1 classification, unless they supervise other professionals.

To qualify as an executive, the alien must:
  • (a) direct the management of the organization or a major component or function of it;
  • (b) establish the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • (c) exercise wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • (d) receive only general supervision or direction from higher level executives or bodies.
To be classified as a specialized knowledge professional, the alien must
  • (a) be a member of the professions and
  • (b) have special knowledge 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.
Another requirement of the L-1 visa is that there must be a subsidiary or affiliate relationship between the foreign and the US companies, or they must be the same company. Generally, common stock ownership and a substantial degree of managerial control establish this relationship by the two companies.

There is no requirement that the US Company already be in operation. However, the US Company must at least have physical premises from which to operate, and generally an occupational license or some other form of permission to engage in employment in the United States, from the local governmental authorities, is required.

An alien entering the United States on an L-1 visa must establish that he or she will be coming for a temporary period of time. Unlike the B, the L-1 visa applicant does not have to establish that he or she has a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning. In addition, like the H-1B visa, an alien with an L-1 visa or status may be recognized as having a dual intent. This means that the alien may qualify for an L-1 visa even if he or she has evidenced an intention to reside in the United States permanently at some future time. This dual intent doctrine is applicable only to aliens who have an H-1B, E, O, P, or L visa. Evidence should still be presented, however, to show that the alien's services will only be required for a temporary period, and that the alien will be transferred to an assignment outside of the United States upon completion of those temporary services in the United States.

The L-1 visa is generally issued for a period of three (3) years, and may be extended in increments of two (2) years up to a total of seven (7) years.

There is a maximum stay of five (5) years for L-1s with specialized knowledge). Those transferees that are sent to the United States to open a new office will only receive a petition approval for one (1) year. At the end of the one-year, the US immigration service will look to see if there has been an increase in the number of employees, significant growth in cash flow, presence of significant customers and clientele, or similar elements in order to determine the need for a managerial or executive employee.

The spouse and children of the principal alien will receive L-2 visas. The spouse of an L-1 may obtain employment authorization by filing form I-765, with supporting documentation, with the US immigration service center that has jurisdiction over the dependent spouse's place of residence. A dependent spouse will be authorized employment for the period of admission and/or status of their spouse, but not to exceed two years.

As with the H-1B and E visas , the L visa may be reissued by the visa office of the US State Department without the need of the alien leaving the United States in order to have the visa placed in the passport.

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