L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

Scottsdale Immigration Lawyers

L-1A visa on a usa flag backgroundEmployees who have worked for a company outside the U.S. for at least one full year may be eligible for an L-1 (intracompany transferee) visa if they are being transferred to a related company in the U.S. The definition of “related” includes subsidiaries, parent companies, or affiliate offices. The year of employment outside the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive role, or in a “specialized knowledge” role, which requires knowledge and experience in company–specific technologies, systems, processes and, procedures., etc. In addition, the role in the U.S. must also be either a managerial or specialized knowledge role. Managers and executives are designated as L-1A and employees with specialized knowledge are classified as L-1B.

There are mainly three requirements for the L-1 visa:

First, the company in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. must have qualifying relationship.
Second, the employee must have worked for the employer’s office outside of the U.S. for at least one year in the three years preceding the transfer to the U.S.
Third, the employee is being transferred to the U.S. to assume a position that requires either specialized knowledge of the company or as a manager or executive.

What is considered a “manager” or “executive” for L-1A purposes?

Generally, a “manager” refers to an employee who:

  • manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  • has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization), or, if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
  • exercises direction over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

An executive, on the other hand:

  • directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

As illustrated above, the requirements for a manager or executive are nuanced and will require a case-by-case analysis to determine whether an employee meets the standard for L-1A eligibility.

What is “specialized knowledge”?

“Specialized knowledge” is knowledge of the employer’s products, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise of the organization’s processes and procedures. For example, it is not sufficient to merely demonstrate that someone is a good computer engineer for a certain company. For that person to qualify for the L-1B status as an employee with “specialized knowledge”, the employee must demonstrate that he possesses specialized knowledge of the company’s technologies or systems, which other computer engineers would not possess, except for those who have worked for the company for at least one year.

Similar to the L-1A standard, the requirements for a specialized knowledge employee are nuanced, so a case-by-case analysis is required to determine whether an employee meets the standard for L-1B eligibility.

What steps are involved in the processing of an L-1 application?

For most employers, an L-1 petition must be filed with the appropriate USCIS service center. Some employers, however, are able to obtain an approved “blanket” L-1 petition, which allows an employee to bypass the USCIS service center and apply the employee directly applying for an L-1A or L-1B visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the U.S. Canadian citizens can apply directly at a U.S. land port-of-entry or an airport pre-flight inspection station.

How long will it take to go through the L process?

Processing times for an L-1 petition vary depending on backlogs at USCIS, or in the case of a blanket L-1 application, at the relevant consulate or embassy. USCIS processing times generally range between 4 to 6 months, but premium processing is available for an additional USCIS fee. On average, processing time of an L visa application at a consulate or embassy is about a week, plus the time required to obtain an appointment.

Can my L-1 status be extended?

Extensions of L status may be filed only during the six-month period prior to expiration of your current status. Extensions are generally granted in two-year increments, up to a maximum of five years for specialized knowledge employees (L-1B) and seven years for managers and executives (L-1A). This time is cumulative of all U.S. stay in H-1B or L-1 status for any employer. If the extension application is filed prior to expiration of the current authorized stay, you automatically have continued work authorization for up to 240 days while the application is pending. There may be restrictions on international travel, however, while the extension application is pending.

If you are looking for an Intracompany Transferee Visa, contact the Arizona Immigration Attorneys at JCL Immigration today.