L-1 Visas Intracompany Transfers Explored

US L-1 Visas - L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visas - Haskew Law

L1 Intracompany Transfer visas

Supporting Global HR Teams Secure US Employment Visas

Our US immigration lawyers have over 20 years experience assisting businesses from multinationals to SME's to secure their L1 Visas. Our friendly team are well placed to work alongside international mobility, HR, managers and Directors.

We assist with intra-company transfers for secondments and can assist employees to localise if they are required in the USA longer than initially anticipated.

Regardless of your requirements, we are able to assist your business to ensure fast results and ensure US immigration compliance regardless of the volume of staff you intend to transfer to the US. Our experts are supported by leading online file management tools to allow our clients complete visibility on the progress of their cases and also to monitor and manage visa that will become due for renewal.

To book a consultation or to arrange a meeting complete our online enquiry or call our offices to arrange a meeting. We are also happy to complete your RFI to discover the benefits Haskew Law can bring to your business.

L1 Visa Program

Intra-company transfer visa An L1 visa is used to complete an intra-company transfer from outside the USA to the same employer in the USA. The L1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa and is typically valid for up to 7 years. However, employees in this category will initially be granted an L1 visa for up to three years. L1 visas are available to certain classes of an employee of an international company with offices in both a home country and the United States, or which intend to open a new office in the United States while maintaining their home country interests. The visa allows such foreign workers to relocate to the corporation's US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one year prior to being granted L1 status. The US office must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company. Spouses of L1 visa holders are allowed to work after obtaining work authorization, without restriction, in the US. The L1 visa is a dual intent visa allowing the holder to apply for a Green Card.

Types of employees eligible for L1 Visas

Managers/Executives (L1A)

The legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict, and a detailed description of the duties attached to the position will be required. In particular, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two-year increments to a maximum of seven years.

2) Specialized Knowledge Staff (L1B)

This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staff in this category are issued an L1B visa, initially for three years extendable to a maximum of five years.

On completing the maximum allowable period in L1 status, the employee must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.

Types of L1 visas:

The L1 visa has two subcategories: for executives and managers, and L1B for workers with specialized knowledge.
An L1A status is valid for up to seven years; L1B status is good for up to five years. After the expiration of the seven or five years, respectively, the alien must leave the United States for an aggregate of 365 days and must work for a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of the U.S. company during that time before becoming eligible to reapply for an L1 visa.

There are two types of L1 procedures:

1) Regular L1 visas, which must be applied for and approved for each individual by the USCIS; and
2) Blanket L1 visas which are available to employers who hire large numbers of Intracompany Transferee's every year.

For a regular L1 visa, the company must file a petition with the USCIS and each petition is evaluated on its own merits.

In the case of a blanket L1 visa petition, it has already been determined by USCIS that the company qualifies for the issuance of Intracompany Transferee visa, so the individual visa applicant need only file a copy of the approved blanket petition, along with documents supporting their personal qualifications, with the US consulate or embassy having jurisdiction over their place of residence proving the applicant's qualifications.

To be eligible for the L-1 Visa, the person applying has to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Have employment in another country that is not the U.S for at least one year in the past three years
  • The company where the applicant works must have a subsidiary, branch, affiliate, or parent company in the U.S
  • The applicant must have specialized knowledge, or have a managerial or executive position
  • The applicant must have a transfer offer to a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position in the U.S company
  • The applicant must be registered as a full-time employee; however, the applicant can work part-time in the U.S and use the rest of the time to work in their home

Individual Petitions

The employer must file a petition to the U.S for the employee to transfer to the country. The individual petition ensures that one employee applies for the L-1 visa. This includes filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and the additional L Supplement to the form to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The petition must be approved by USCIS in order for the employee to start their application at the U.S Embassy. When the petition is approved, the employer will get Form I-797.

L-1 Blanket Petitions

The blanket petition has been created to enable large companies to get one approval from USCIS and transfer many employees on L-1 visas to the U.S. The employer files a Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on L-1 Blanket Petition to USCIS. After it is approved, the employer gets Form I-797, which all employees who will transfer will use in their applications.

The blanket petition is valid for 3 years and can be extended as many times as the employer needs. However, if the petition expires, then the employer cannot file a new blanket petition for another 3 years, but is allowed to file individual petitions.

Besides these two differences in the application process, all other steps remain the same for all L-1 visa applicants, whether they have an individual or blanket petition.

Dependents of L1 Visa Holders

Upon application at the consulate or embassy, the spouse and children of the primary applicant under the age of 21 may be issued L2 visas.

Children of the primary L1 can attend school. The spouse of the primary L1 can apply with the USCIS for employment authorization after arriving in the United States and, after issuance of the Employment Authorization Document(EAD, Form I-765), may thereafter work for any employer.

Schedule your interview

To get the L-1 visa, you must conduct an interview with the officials of the U.S Embassy that you are applying from. If you are over 13 and under 79 years old, you must schedule an interview. Try to do this as soon as possible, since the Embassies are busy and it might take a while for them to get to your turn. When you schedule your interview, you will get a visa interview appointment letter.

Attend your interview

Your interview is an integral part of your application. You will be interviewed by an official from the U.S Embassy you applied to. The official will try to gauge your intentions for travelling to the U.S and wants you to prove that your transfer is true and that you will be working in the U.S. If your interview goes well, your visa will be processed and you can go and get your passport stamped.

L-1 Visa Processing Time

The L-1 visa does not take too long to process. Individual petitions take a bit longer than blanket petitions, but the reduction in time is very small. In general, an L-1 visa is processed for around 3 to 4 months from the time the application was submitted.

Since there is an option for premium processing, employers who pay it can get the answer to whether their petition is approved or denied in 1 to 3 weeks.

Extending an L1 Visa

L1 status may be renewed and extended within the United States. Except in the case of blanket petitions, a new I-129 petition must be filed. Renewal in the United States applies to status only, not the actual visa in the passport. For visa renewal, the applicant must go to a US consulate or embassy outside the United States.

An alien cannot leave the United States and then re-enter without a valid L1 visa, and must appear personally before a consular officer for visa issuance. This often leads to difficulties for applicants, because it means leaving their adopted home in the United States for as long as it takes the embassy to issue their new visa. In particularly busy times of year or at some consulates or embassies, this can take several weeks or more.

Changing to a Green Card

Luckily, similar to the H-1B visa, the L-1 visa is also of dual intent. This means that L-1 visa applicants do not necessarily have to prove that they will return to their home country once their contracts end. They don’t have to prove any ties to home, and they are allowed to apply for a Green Card.

Applications for a Green Card can be done by filing Form I-40, adjustment of status, through employment, family unions, or other methods. Since some L-1 visa holders have specialized knowledge, they could also apply as priority workers for the Green Card and could end up obtaining it within 1 year. So, in other words, if an L1 visa applicant states that they have immigration intent to the U.S, it will not affect or penalize their application.

L1 Visa Refusal

Reasons for visa denial: 

A consular officer may deny the issuance of an L-1 visa in cases where the officer determines the USA company that filed the L-1 petition may not be qualified, or that the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch outside the United States is not qualified or does not intend to continue in business after L1 visa issuance, or that USCIS approved the petition based on a fraud committed by the company or the visa applicant, or that the applicant is ineligible for that class of visa under section 212(a) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. In addition, the consular officer may request that the underlying petition be reconsidered by USCIS.

"Dual Intent" allowed: 

Unlike some classes of non-immigrant visas, L1 applicants may not be denied a visa on the basis that they are an intending immigrant to the United States, or that they do not have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon.

The employer must pay the fees

To be eligible for an L-1 visa, your employer must pay certain fees to USCIS. These fees are as follows:

  • Form I-129 filing fee – $460
  • Employers with 25 or less fulltime employees in the U.S must pay the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) – $750
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee – $500
  • Employers with 50 or more employees in the U.S on an H-1B or L-1 visa – $4,000
  • Premium processing from USCIS – $1,225
US L-1 Inter-Corporate Transferee
US L-1 Visas - L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visas - Haskew Law

Name: US L-1 Inter-company transfer

Description: Chances are, if you could be eligible for this visa, you already know or suspect you might be. That doesn't mean, however, that letting the HR department know you'd like to go to the States is necessarily easy or risk-free. But for those who, say, run their own companies, this could be worth another look as a quick way to end-run some of the other more cumbersome options.

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