What is an L-1 visa?
The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa category in the United States that allows multinational companies to transfer certain employees from their foreign offices to their U.S. offices. The L-1 visa is designed to facilitate the temporary transfer of employees with specialized knowledge or managerial/executive roles, helping companies manage their operations and enhance collaboration between their U.S. and foreign offices.
There are two main types of L-1 visas:
- L-1A Visa: This category is for intracompany transferees in managerial or executive positions. To qualify, the employee must hold a managerial or executive role in the foreign company and be transferred to a similar role in the U.S.
- L-1B Visa: This category is for intracompany transferees with specialized knowledge. Specialized knowledge refers to advanced knowledge about the company’s products, services, processes, or procedures that is not readily available in the U.S. labor market.
Key features and requirements of the L-1 visa include:
- Qualifying Relationship: The U.S. and foreign entities must have a qualifying relationship, such as a parent-company, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch relationship.
- Employee Eligibility: The employee being transferred must have been employed with the foreign company for a certain period before the transfer. For L-1A, this period is typically one year; for L-1B, it’s also usually one year.
- Job Responsibilities: L-1A visa holders must have managerial or executive roles, while L-1B visa holders must possess specialized knowledge.
- New Office Requirement: If the U.S. entity is a new office, the initial L-1 visa granted is usually for a shorter duration, allowing the company to establish operations in the U.S. Once the office is established, the visa can be extended.
- Dual Intent: L-1 visa holders are allowed to have “dual intent,” which means they can apply for permanent residency (green card) while on an L-1 visa without it negatively affecting their non-immigrant status.
- Spouse and Dependents: Spouses of L-1 visa holders can apply for work authorization, allowing them to work in the U.S. Dependents (unmarried children under 21) are allowed to accompany L-1 visa holders and can attend school in the U.S.
The L-1 visa program is beneficial for multinational companies seeking to transfer key employees to the U.S. to manage operations, provide specialized knowledge, or establish new offices. It enables companies to maintain effective operations across international borders while facilitating the development of their U.S. presence. However, it’s important to note that immigration policies and requirements can change, so it’s advisable to consult the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or seek legal counsel for the most up-to-date information regarding the L-1 visa process.
L-1 visa eligibility
To be eligible for an L-1 visa, certain criteria must be met by both the employer and the employee: https://bwea.com/l-1-visa/
The L-1 visa is designed for intracompany transferees who are coming to work for a U.S. office of their current employer, which has a qualifying relationship with their foreign company. There are two main types of L-1 visas: L-1A for managers and executives, and L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge. Here are the key eligibility requirements:
For the Employer (U.S. Company):
- Qualifying Relationship: The U.S. and foreign entities must have a qualifying relationship. This relationship can be in the form of a parent-company, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office relationship.
- Existing Business: The U.S. company must be an existing, operating business. If the U.S. entity is a new office, additional requirements apply (see below).
For the Employee (Intracompany Transferee):
- Employment Qualification: The employee must have been employed by the foreign company for a continuous period of at least one year out of the past three years before applying for the L-1 visa. This employment should have been in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.
- Position Requirements: The employee’s intended position in the U.S. must be either managerial (L-1A) or requiring specialized knowledge (L-1B).
Additional Requirements for New Office L-1 Visas (L-1A):
If the U.S. entity is a new office, there are additional requirements:
- Business Plan: The U.S. company must have a detailed business plan that outlines the company’s goals, staffing, financial projections, and operational details.
- Sufficient Physical Premises: The U.S. company must have secured sufficient physical premises for its operations, and these premises must be in place before the L-1 petition is filed.
- Managerial/Executive Role: The employee being transferred must be coming to the U.S. to work in a managerial or executive capacity.
- Dual Intent: L-1 visa holders are allowed to have dual intent, meaning they can apply for permanent residency (green card) while on an L-1 visa without it negatively impacting their non-immigrant status.
- Spouse and Dependents: Spouses of L-1 visa holders can apply for work authorization, and dependents (unmarried children under 21) can accompany the L-1 visa holder and attend school in the U.S.
It’s important to note that eligibility requirements can be complex, and each case may have unique factors. The L-1 visa process involves submitting a petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by the employer, and USCIS makes the final determination on the eligibility of the applicant and the petition. It’s advisable to consult the official USCIS website or seek legal advice from an immigration attorney to ensure that you understand and meet the specific eligibility requirements for the L-1 visa category.
L-1 visa cost
The cost associated with obtaining an L-1 visa can include several fees, expenses, and processing costs. Please note that fees and costs can change over time, so it’s essential to refer to the official U.S. government sources for the most up-to-date information. Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs involved in the L-1 visa application process:
- Form I-129 Filing Fee: The U.S. employer (petitioner) is required to pay a filing fee when submitting Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the prospective L-1 visa holder. The fee can vary based on whether the employer is a small or large company, and whether the petition is being filed for a new office L-1 visa or an extension. The base filing fee for a standard L-1 petition for a large company was around $805, while the fee for a small company was around $555.
- Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: In addition to the Form I-129 filing fee, certain employers may need to pay a Fraud Prevention and Detection fee. This fee is typically $500.
- Premium Processing Fee: If the U.S. employer wishes to expedite the processing of the L-1 petition, they have the option to pay an additional premium processing fee. As of my last update, the premium processing fee was $2,500. This fee allows for faster processing of the petition and guarantees USCIS action within 15 calendar days.
- Visa Application Fee: After the L-1 petition is approved by USCIS, the prospective L-1 visa holder needs to pay the visa application fee to the U.S. embassy or consulate where they will apply for the L-1 visa. The fee amount can vary based on the country and reciprocity agreements. It’s important to check the U.S. Department of State’s website for the specific fee amount for the applicant’s country.
- Visa Issuance Fee: Some countries require individuals to pay a visa issuance fee upon approval of the visa. The fee amount varies depending on the country.
- Additional Costs: Depending on the specific circumstances, there may be additional costs such as attorney fees, medical examination fees, and costs associated with document translation and other required documentation.
It’s important to note that the L-1 visa application process can vary based on factors such as the type of L-1 visa (L-1A or L-1B), the employer’s size and location, and changes in immigration policies. Always refer to the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Department of State websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information on fees and requirements. Consulting with an immigration attorney or expert can also help ensure that you have a clear understanding of the costs involved in the L-1 visa application process.