L-1 Visa

The L-1 category applies to foreign citizens who work for a company with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the U.S.

Do I qualify?

These workers come to the U.S. as transferred within the company with the intent to temporarily perform the following services:
• managerial or executive position (L-1A) or
• positions requiring specialized knowledge (L-1B)

The employee must have been employed abroad for the corporation, firm, or other legal entity (or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof) on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three-year period to qualify. There is currently no annual cap on L-1 visas.

The employer is not required to obtain a labor certification prior to petitioning in this category. Compensation level is not prescribed, but U.S. income must be sufficient to prevent the foreigner from becoming a public charge.

Can I bring my family?

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of the L-1 workers are entitled to L-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Children and spouse of L-1 workers may study in the U.S. in L-2 status. They may not, however, be employed under the L-2 classification.

What are the key documents required?

A U.S. employer or foreign employer may file the I-129 petition. However, a foreign employer must have a legal business in the U.S.

The petition must be filed with:
1. Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and the foreign employer which address ownership and control, such as an annual report, copies of articles of incorporation, financial statements, or stock certificates
2. A letter from the foreign qualifying employer detailing the individual’s dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary and demonstrating that the alien worked for the employer abroad for at least one continuous year within the three-year period before the filing of the petition. The employment must be in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge.
3. A detailed description of the proposed job duties and qualifications and evidence the proposed employment is in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge.

If the foreigner is coming to the U.S. as a manager or executive (L-1A) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that:
1. Sufficient premises to house the new office have been prepared
2. The beneficiary has, or upon establishment will have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign employer and the qualifying position; and
3. The intended U.S. operation will be able to support the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition. This must be supported by information regarding:

· the proposed nature of the U.S. office (size and scope, organizational structure, and financial goals),
· financial information about the foreign entity (the size of the U.S. investment and the financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the U.S.), and
· the organizational structure of the foreign entity.

If the foreigner is coming to the U.S. in a specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file the petition with evidence that:
• Sufficient premises to house the new office have been prepared
• The business entity in the U.S is or will be a qualifying organization
• The petitioner has the financial ability to compensate the alien beneficiary and to begin doing business in the U.S.

Can I apply for the extension of my petition?

A petitioner may apply for an extension of an individual L-1 petition using Form I-129. Supporting documentation is not required, except in cases involving new offices or when requested.

For Employers: What are the benefits of a Blanket L petition?

Organizations that regularly file L petitions may wish to consider filing for a blanket L petition in order to obtain continuing approval for the organization (and some or all of its parents, branches, subsidiaries and affiliates in the U.S.). This simplifies the process of approving and admitting additional individual L-1A and L-1B workers.

The blanket L petition must be filed by a U.S. employer that will become the single representative between the USICIS and the qualifying foreign organization. It must be filed with copies of evidence that indicate that the:

• Petitioner and its branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates are engaged in commercial trade or services
• Petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
• Petitioner has 3 or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates;
• Petitioner and its qualifying organizations have obtained approved petitions for at least ten L-1 professionals during the previous year or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least 25 million dollars, or have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

After approval of a blanket petition, the petitioner may file for individual employees to enter as L-1 professionals under the blanket petition.

If the foreigner is outside the U.S., submit:
· a completed Form I-129S and
· a copy of the Form I-797 (USCIS approval notice).

If the foreigner is already in the U.S., submit:
· an I-129 to request a change of status, based on this blanket petition. An I-129 petition for a change of status must be filed with:

1. A copy of the approval notice for the blanket petition;
2. A letter from the alien’s foreign employer detailing the alien’s dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary for the 3 previous years; and
3. If the alien is a specialized knowledge professional, a copy of a U.S. degree, a foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. degree, or evidence establishing the combination of the beneficiary’s education and experience is the equivalent of a U.S. degree.

Extending a Blanket L Petition

A petitioner may file an I-129 to extend an expiring blanket petition. The extension petition must be filed with:
• A copy of the previous approval notice for the blanket petition; and
• A summary of the employment of L-1 aliens admitted under the blanket petition during the preceding three years, listing, for each foreigner:
1. His or her name
2. Position(s) held during the period
3. Employing entity
4. Date of initial L-1 admission under the blanket
5. Date of final departure, if the alien has been transferred outside the United States, and
6. Documentation of any changes in approved relationships and additional qualifying relationships.