L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa
The L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa which allows companies to relocate foreign qualified employees to their UNITED STATES branch, subsidiary, affiliate or parent company. The qualified employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the company for at least one year out of the last three years preceding his/her transfer to the United States.
The USCIS has provided a special set of procedures to be used by companies that are frequent users of the L-1 visa category and are large multi-national organizations. This is called the "L-1 Blanket Petition Program". Under this program, the approved company need only receive one approval from the USCIS to transfer a certain number of managerial, executive and professional employees.
Full-time employment is not required to maintain L-1 visa status, but the employee “must dedicate a significant portion of time on a regular and systematic basis” to the company while in the UNITED STATES. The L-1 visa holder is allowed to divide work between the UNITED STATES and home country. In other words, the foreign worker can be principally employed outside the UNITED STATES and still receive L-1 visa for coming to the UNITED STATES to work on a short-term basis.
If the foreign national is coming to the UNITED STATES for conferring with officials, attending meetings and conferences, and participating in training, such activities are not considered a regular and systematic basis and the foreign national should apply for Business Visitor Visa instead.
There are two different L-1 visa classifications: L-1A and L-1B.
Certain family members of intracompany transferees may also accompany the L-1 visa holder as dependents. An L-1 visa holder may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Spouses of L-1 visa holders can apply for work authorization.
L-1A visas for Intracompany Transferee Executives or Managers
L-1A visas are designed for intracompany executives’ or managers’ transferees coming to work in the United States. The L-1A visa holders must have been employed in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity for the foreign company at an overseas location continuously for at least one year out of the past three years preceding his/her transfer to the United States. L-1A visa is granted initially for one year for a new company in the United States or three years for a United States company with more than one year in existence, with extensions available in two-year increments, with a total stay not to exceed seven years.
L-1B visas for Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge Employees
L-1B visas are designed for professional employees with specialized and/or advanced knowledge. An example of specialized knowledge personnel would be an individual who possesses proprietary knowledge about a company's product and who travels to the UNITED STATES to impart his or her specialized knowledge to new UNITED STATES employees. L-1B visa is granted initially for one year for a new company in the United States or three years for a United States company with more than one year in existence, with extensions available in two-year increments, with a total stay not to exceed five years.
On completing the maximum allowable period, the L-1 visa holder must leave the United States for minimum of one year and must work for the foreign operation of the UNITED STATES Company before becoming eligible to reapply for an L-1 visa.