What is an L-1 Visa?

An L-1 visa is granted to people who have worked outside of the U.S. as a manager, executive, or in a position involving specialized knowledge, and are now seeking to come to the U.S. to work in a related U.S. company in the same capacity. Many international companies use an L visa to transfer their executives, managers, or workers who are in a position that involves specialized knowledge to the U.S. L-1 visas are reserved for individuals employed by the company in question.

L-1 Visa Requirements

There are a number of stipulations attached to acquiring an L-1 visa. These include:

  • Worker is an executive, manager, or in a position involving specialized knowledge.
  • Worker has been employed continuously for at least one year within three years preceding the time of the L visa application.
  • The company outside the U.S. is related to the U.S. company in some form (parent company, branch, affiliate, subsidiary, etc.).
  • Worker seeks to enter the U.S. temporarily.
  • Worker will continue to work for the company as an executive, manager, or in a position involving specialized knowledge. 

There are no specific salary requirements to attain an L-1 visa. Rather, the worker must simply prove to either act in an executive or managerial capacity. 

A spouse and/or minor children of a L-1 beneficiary may be granted L-2 visa status. An L-2 visa beneficiary may become a student in the U.S. They also may work in the United States.

The L-1 Application Process

The application process for the L visa includes the sponsor and/or applicant filing a petition with the USCIS. That petition is Form I-129. The application process fluctuates but can take several months. However, the USCIS offers an option for premium processing. For a $1,225 fee, the USCIS will process the petition in 15 days or less. L-1 visas allow for dual intent as well. This means that applicants can pursue lawful permanent resident status during their stay.

Regular L-1 Visas vs Blanket L-1 Visas

Workers may obtain an L-1 visa in one of two ways. Either, they must submit a regular L-1 visa petition and have their case judged on its individual merit, or they can submit a blanket L-1 visa petition. Blanket petitions are granted to companies who have met certain qualifications regarding L-1 visas. In such an instance, the worker would simply file a copy of an approved blanket petition.

For a company to achieve blanket L-1 status, it must first: 

  • Be engaged in commercial trade or services.
  • Have an office in the U.S. for a year or more.
  • Have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates.

However, the petitioning company must also meet one of the following criteria to gain blanket-petition status: the business must have obtained 10 L-1 visa approvals during the previous twelve-month period, have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates that have a combined annual sales total exceeding $25 million, or it employ a U.S. work force of more than 1,000 people.

L-1 Visa Length of Stay

L-1 visas may either last for an initial maximum of one or three years, depending on whether the applicant is establishing a new office or moving into an existing one. The maximum extension limit on an L-1 visa is seven years –– though it is possible to switch from an L-1 visa to a green card.

Contact an L-1 Visa Attorney

Our managing attorney Karen-Lee Pollak and experienced support immigration team work with the sponsor and/or applicant to submit the most complete and thorough petition, which emphasizes the applicant’s education, qualifications, and experience. In addition, our support team knows the processes and procedures to work with various government agencies to ensure the best possible outcome.

Our firm provides full-service professional legal advice and representation to help you find an immigration solution to your visa needs. Please contact us to discuss your immigration options.

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