L-1 Visas

Intracompany Transferee (L-1) Visa

The L-1A category is a non-immigrant visa classification meant for aliens coming to work in the United States in an executive or managerial capacity on an assignment of a temporary nature for a U.S. subsidiary or parent company of the foreign employer. There are two subdivisions of the L-1 category: 1) L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager and 2) L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge. The L-1A visa classification allows a foreign company to transfer an executive or manager to the U.S. subsidiary or parent company. If an affiliated U.S. subsidiary or parent company does not yet exist, the L-1A classification allows the foreign company to send the executive or manager to the United States for the purpose of establishing the affiliated subsidiary or parent company. Both the L-1A and L-1B require the beneficiary to have worked abroad for the foreign employer for at least one year within the proceeding three years. If the alien is not employed in an executive or managerial capacity, the L-1B visa classification comes into play. In order for the alien to be eligible, the petitioner must demonstrate that though the alien is not employed in an executive or managerial capacity with the company, the alien possesses specialized knowledge and can represent the organization’s interests (L-1B). There is no annual limit on the number of L-1 visas issued.

What is a parent company?

A parent company is typically one that exhibits control over one or more smaller subsidiary companies. Parent companies are typically larger, and may own stock in the smaller company (-ies) controlled.

What constitutes employment in an executive capacity?

An employee is generally employed in an executive capacity if their duties involve considerable decision making on a wide range of issues and the independence to make those decisions with little supervision.

USCIS defines executive capacity as follows under section 101(a)(44)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:

The term "executive capacity" means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily-

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

(ii) establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;

(iii) exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and

(iv) receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

(C) If staffing levels are used as a factor in determining whether an individual is acting in a managerial or executive capacity, the Attorney General shall take into account the reasonable needs of the organization, component, or function in light of the overall purpose and stage of development of the organization, component, or function. An individual shall not be considered to be acting in a managerial or executive capacity (as previously defined) merely on the basis of the number of employees that the individual supervises or has supervised or directs or has directed.

What constitutes employment in a managerial capacity?

An employee is generally employed in a managerial capacity if their duties involve the supervision, control of the work to be performed by other professional personnel, and the management of an essential function of the organization or a subdivision of the company or organization.

USCIS defines managerial capacity as follows under section 101(a)(44)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The term "managerial capacity" means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily-

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

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

(iii) if another employee or other employees are directly supervised, has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) or, if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and

(iv) exercises discretion over the day- to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor's supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.

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Requirements

An L-1 transferee cannot file a petition on their own behalf. In order to file for an L-1 visa, the U.S. subsidiary/parent company or the foreign employer seeking to transfer the qualifying employee must file USCIS Form I-129 Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker with the L supplement along with documents in support of the petition.

The U.S. subsidiary/parent company must demonstrate that a qualifying relationship exists with the foreign company/qualified organization. Qualifying organizations include a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.

The foreign company/qualified organization must either currently be doing viable business or demonstrate that they will conduct viable business in the United States and at least one other country through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the L-1 visa classification.

What does 'doing business' mean?

A qualifying organization is engaging in business if there is regular, systemic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services. The qualifying organization and/or U.S. subsidiary must establish that the transferee will be coming to the United States to engage in business activities as outlined above.

Supporting Documents for L-1 Visa

The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the L-1 petition. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case. The list includes but is not limited to the following items:

Biographical Documents of Beneficiary:

  • Copy of Passport I.D. Page;
  • Copy of U.S. Visa I.D. Page (if applicable);
  • Copy of I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (if applicable);
  • Employment Verification Letter;
  • Payroll Summary for the past year;
  • Payroll Stubs/ Earnings Statements –for the last year;
  • Resume;

Documents from Foreign Company/Qualifying Organization

  • Documentation establishing that the beneficiary has worked in the foreign company for a continuous period of over one year in the preceding three years in an executive or managerial capacity, or was employed in a position involving specialized knowledge and that the beneficiary is coming to the U.S. to work in an executive, managerial, or a specialized knowledge position;
  • Documentation regarding the beneficiary’s position held at the foreign affiliate – e.g. position description; work product; projects completed, etc.;
  • Company statement describing the proposed position explaining the specialized knowledge required, current and future company projects;
  • Letter from CEO/company official explaining how the individual with specialized knowledge is integral to company operations;
  • Copies of articles of incorporation or equivalent;
  • Copy of certificate of Registration or equivalent
  • Copy of board authorization (startup organizations);
  • Company list of shareholders;
  • Copy of company’s most recent federal income tax return;
  • Copy of company lease for business premises;
  • Copies of telephone bills and yellow page directory listing, including directions for business premises;
  • Copies of profit & loss statements;
  • Copy of balance sheet;
  • Copies of company bank statements-for the past year;
  • Copy of company brochures, marketing material, website print outs;
  • Color photographs of business premises (interior and exterior);
  • Company organizational chart (including employee names and their job titles);
  • Company list of employees, with job titles and a brief job description of each position;
  • Evidence of establishment of a U.S. subsidiary or parent company (if one does not yet exist);

Documents from U.S. Subsidiary/Parent Company

  • Company statement including a job description and requirements for the beneficiary's position. If the beneficiary will be applying for the L-1B visa classification, the statement should include a description of the specialized knowledge they possess integral to the company’s operations to do business in the United States;

Note: If a U.S. subsidiary or parent company of the qualifying organization does not yet exist, the qualifying organization must write this statement and explain the extent of which the employee will be engaging in doing business for the establishment of an affiliate U.S. Company.

  • Copies of articles of incorporation;
  • Copy of organizational minutes;
  • Copy of IRS Letter for EIN issuance;
  • Copy of company stock ledger;
  • Copies of issued stock certificates;
  • Copies of bank statements-past year;
  • Copy of business license;
  • Copy of seller’s permit;
  • Employee organizational chart
  • Copy of commercial lease for business premise (square footage and floor plan)
  • Copies of telephone bills and yellow page directory listing;
  • Color photographs of business premises (interior and exterior);
  • Business plan;

Documents from U.S. Subsidiary/Parent Company

  • Company statement including a job description and requirements for the employee's position. If the beneficiary will be applying for the L-1B visa classification, the statement should include a description of the specialized knowledge they possess integral to the company’s operations to do business in the United States;

Note: If a U.S. subsidiary or parent company of the qualifying organization does not yet exist, the qualifying organization must write this statement and explain the extent of which the employee will be engaging in doing business for the establishment of an affiliate U.S. Company.

  • Copies of articles of incorporation;
  • Copy of organizational minutes;
  • Copy of IRS Letter for EIN issuance;
  • Copy of company stock ledger;
  • Copies of issued stock certificates;
  • Copies of bank statements-past year;
  • Copy of business license;
  • Copy of seller’s permit;
  • Employee organizational chart
  • Copy of commercial lease for business premise (square footage and floor plan)
  • Copies of telephone bills and yellow page directory listing;
  • Color photographs of business premises (interior and exterior);
  • Business plan;

Stay and Extensions

The initial period of approval allowed for L-1 category is a maximum of three years. Extensions of stay can be applied for a total period of up to seven years for managers and executives and a total of five years for specialized knowledge employees. In order to file for an extension, the employer should re-file USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker along with L supplement. Supporting documentation is normally not required for extensions.

Dependents

The family members of L-1 aliens can come to the U.S. under the L-2 category. However, they cannot engage in employment in the United States unless they change their status to a non-immigrant category for which employment is allowed.

Frequently Asked Questions about L-1 Visa