When Immigration Matters

The L-1 Intra-Company Transferee Visa

Posted by Michael Pollak on Sat, Aug 01, 2009 @ 1:08 PM

The "L-1" or "intra-company transfer" visa facilitates the transfer of key employees from a foreign corporation to a U.S. branch, parent, subsidiary or affiliated entity. This visa allows a U.S. company to bring in top-level managerial, executive or specialized knowledge employees for a temporary period. The employee must have worked for the foreign company for at least one of the past three years, or six months for a blanket "L" scenario, and must work for the U.S. company in a similar position. The position must be in one of the three classes: manager, executive, or specialized knowledge. However, the position need not be classified under the same status as it would be overseas (for instance, what is considered a "specialized knowledge" position overseas could be classified as "manager" position in the United States. The foreign entity may pay the employee's salary but the U.S. company must control the employee's performance of work. Authority to engage and terminate the employee is strong evidence of control. There are no numerical limits on the L visa and the spouse of an L visa holder may apply for work authorization. The L visa is initially valid for up to three years in the case of an existing business and up to one year where a new business is established in the United States. There is a five-year limit on L-1B employees with specialized knowledge staying in the United States and a seven-year limit for L-1A managers and executives.

Consular posts generally see an increase in L-1 applications after the H-1B cap is reached. However, there is no legal reason why aliens eligible for H-1B status cannot legitimately seek out other type of visas, including L visas.

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