The L1 visa is a means of transferring employees who are working in a company outside of the US to the same company’s offices located in USA. Many people who are looking to expand in the US don’t know what is L1 visa. If you own a company and want to transfer your employees to work in the US office, then you need to know about L1 visa. If you are wondering what is L1 visa, and how can it help you with your business, then you are at the right place. This post will tell you everything you need to know about what is L1 visa and how you can apply for it.

Who can apply for L1 Visa?

Following are some conditions which apply for obtaining L1 visa:

  • The employee must have worked for at least one year in the last three years in a branch or affiliated offices of the company
  • There are no restrictions on the type of organizations who can apply for L1
  • Organizations which are charitable, non-profit or religious can also apply for L1 visa
  • The company or office located in the USA must be a child, parent or sister company of the one which is present outside of US
  • Multinational companies can also apply for L1 visas
  • Anyone who is looking for intra-company transfers may apply for L1 visa

This post targets all information which you will need to answer the question what is L1 visa and how you can obtain it. L1 visa has certain advantages as well, as listed below:

Advantages of L1 Visa

There are many advantages of L1 visa for businesses as follows:

  • Small start-up companies and businesses can expand their companies in the United States
  • Managers who have direct knowledge of operations and establishment of offices can be sent to the US for supervision
  • The setup in the US can be compliant with the goals and aims of the company by sending worthy and able employees to manage the offices in the US
  • Multinational companies can send their product or company specialists if they are developing their market in the US
  • The L1 visa is perfectly suited to the policies which a company may have regarding the international rotation of managerial positions
  • L1 visa highly facilitates the intra-company transfers which companies are planning out for expansion or management of their businesses

Types of L1 Visa

Now that you know what is L1 visa, we should proceed to the types of L1 visa. There are two types of L1 visa – L1-A visas and L1-B visas. This will tell you more about what is L1 visa which is essential if you are thinking to apply an L1 visa for yourself or an employee. The two types of L1 visa are for different kinds of employees who specialize in different nature of work. They are described as follows:

a.    L1-A Visa

L1-A visas are for employees who are either the company executives or managers who need to be transferred to the US office or offices for company reasons. But to qualify for an L1-A visa, the employee should have:

  • Worked in an overseas office of the company for a year out of the last three years
  • Performed an executive or managerial role for a year out of the last three roles in the overseas office

The L1-A visa is also for companies who do not yet have an office in USA. They can transfer their executives or managers who are eligible to set up their business or offices in the US.

Duration of the L1-A Visa

You should consider learning more about what is L1 visa and how it can benefit your company. Another advantage of the L1-A visa is that it can be extended. The L1-A visa can have multiple periods of duration as follows:

  • Initial period of one year is granted to a new company to establish its offices
  • Initial period of three years is granted for a US company who has been more than a year in existence
  • Extensions are available to extend the visa for two years at a time
  • The total stay of the L1-A visa cannot exceed seven years

b.    L1-B Visa

The professional employees of a company who have specialized knowledge in any company aspects are eligible to apply for L1-B visas. An example could be a Manufacturing Engineer who heads and supervises the company manufacturing plants for product manufacturing. Such an employee can be transferred to the US office so as to train the other employees there about the product manufacturing and plant maintenance. Like the L1-A visa, the L1-B visa can also be used to send a professional to establish a company’s office in USA if the company does not have one there already. This information will build up your knowledge of what is L1 visa and how efficiently you can use it to establish your company in the USA.

Duration of the L1-B Visa

Like the L1-A visa, the L1-B visa can also be extended and has multiple periods of stay as stated below:

  • Initial period of three years is granted for a company
  • Period can be extended for two years only once
  • The total stay cannot exceed from five years

L1 Blanket Visa

The companies who use L1 visas frequently are provided with this facility of L1 Blanket Visa. You already know what is L1 visa – the L1 Blanket Visa is a facility through which companies can get a single approval for the inter-company transfer of a certain number of their employees. So, such large multinational organizations are eligible for this program called ‘L1 Blanket Petition Program’, where the approved company just needs a single approval from the USCIS (U.S Citizenship and immigration Services) to transfer their employees. To know more about what is L1 visa and its programs, have a look at the certain conditions which are attached to the above mentioned program as follows:

  • L1 holder has to leave US on completion of the maximum period allowed to stay in US
  • The L1 holder cannot reapply for L1 until after a year when the holder has worked for the overseas operations of the US Company
  • In order to maintain the status of L visa, full time employment is not required by the visa holder in the US
  • It is none-the-less required for the visa holder to contribute a significant proportion of time to the US Company regularly
  • The L1 visa holder has to be full-time employed by the company, but it’s not a requirement to work full-time in the US
  • Short-term employment is possible in the US while employed full-time by the company through which the L1 visa is granted

Other Perks of L1 Visa

To completely know what is L1 visa, you should also be aware of the perks which L1 visa has to offer to the people who qualify for it. If you are a recipient of L1 visa, you need to know about the following perks so that you can make the most of this opportunity of working in the US:

  • Spouses of L1 visa holders can work without restriction in USA if they are authorized from USCIS
  • L1 visa is a dual intent visa – which means that the L1 visa holder may apply for a Green Card and acquire permanent residency from their L1 visa status
  • Waiting for visa numbers will not be required for L1 visa holders before they can apply for Adjustment of Status and can receive their Green Card
  • L1 visa holder can travel within and outside the US
  • Children and spouse of L1 visa holder can accompany on L2 visa
  • Children of L1 visa holder are eligible to attend school in the US

Requirements for L1 Visa

There are certain requirements in order to apply for an L1 visa. These requirements are different for an employee and employer. The requirements of L1 visa is an important aspect of what is L1 visa, so you should pay careful attention to this section.

Employer Requirements for L1 Visa

The employer who is petitioning for L1 visa must meet the following requirements:

  • The existence of a qualifying relationship with a foreign company which might be a subsidiary, parent company, branch office or an affiliation of the foreign organization. These all organizations are referred to as qualifying entities or organizations.
  • The company is either currently doing business as an employer in the US, or be willing to do so through the petition for L1 visa
  • The mere existence of offices or agents is not enough for obtaining an L1 visa rather a systemic provision of services and goods is required in the foreign office established or to-be established in the US
  • The company must also be in business in one another country on a minimum, either directly or through any of the qualifying entities, which should be during the duration of the L1 visa holder’s stay in the US but engagement in international trade is not a requirement

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well-established Businesses vs. Start-ups

If you are a start-up company or business and you already know what is L1 visa, then this shows your interest in expanding your business. The above mentioned requirements are very easy to fulfill for businesses which are well established and renowned. Such companies do not have to submit excessive documentation as proof. But for small businesses and start-ups, they need to verify their eligibility by submitting excessive documentation and proof while petitioning for an L1 visa. In such cases, it is a wise decision to consult an experienced attorney.

Employee Requirements for L1 Visa

To learn more about what is L1 visa and its requirements for employees, read on.

1.    Employee Applying for L1-A Visa

The requirements for employees who are applying for L1-A visas are:

  • He/she should have worked overseas for one year among the last three years other than the US
  • He/she would be serving a managerial or executive role in the US
  • He/she should have been employed in an executive or managerial position in the company in US
  • He/she should be well qualified for the job in light of his/her past experiences and education
  • He/she should have the intention of leaving the US at the end of the duration for L1-A visa

2.    Employee Applying for L1-B visa

The requirements for employees who are applying for L1-B visas are:

  • He/she should have worked overseas for one year among the last three years other than the US
  • He/she would serve as a professional in specialized knowledge – more than the level of familiarity and close to the level of expert and professional
  • He/she should have the intention of leaving the US at the end of the duration for L1-A visa

The above information has enlightened you about what is L1 visa but you need to know that in addition to the requirements, if the L1-B visa holder is primarily stationed on the worksite or office a company other than the petitioning company and either of the following occurs then the visa holder will be violating the status:

  • The principal control of the visa holder is under the unaffiliated employer
  • If the reason for working for the unaffiliated employer is to provide labor for hire rather than the serving in order to provide specialized and professional knowledge

Requirements for New Offices

If a company is relocating its employees to establish a new office or offices in USA, then the following requirements are to be met:

  • A physical location must be already secured by the company
  • The new office will support the relocated employees within one year of approval of petition

Obtaining an L1 Visa

Maybe some of you did know previously about L1 visa. Even if you did know what is L1 visa, you probably don’t know how to obtain one. Read on to find out.

The employer petitioning for the L1 visa needs to collect the following documents and send it to the USCIS:

  • Form I-129, a petition for L supplement and nonimmigrant worker. These can be obtained online from the website of USCIS
  • Documents which support the application
  • A letter from the US employer who will verify that the L1 visa beneficiary will be working with them in the required position

Required Documentation and Proof

The requirements for L1 visa is the most crucial information in this post apart from the basics about what is L1 visa. To be issued with an L1 Visa, the petitioner must submit the following evidence:

  • Proof of the beneficiary employee’s employment as an executive, manager or professional in a specialized knowledge in a foreign country other than the US for a period of one continuous year in the last three years before filing the petition. This can be provided in a letter which is signed by an authorized official of the petitioner. The letter should also include job responsibilities, job titles, salary, qualification, number of supervised employees, authority level and the dates of time spent in the US during that period. If the USCIS questions the accuracy of this statement, other supporting documents will be required. Don’t make any mistakes or blunders while petitioning for L1 visa as you now know in depth about what is L1 visa.
  • Proof of a qualifying relationship between the petitioning entity and qualifying entity present in the US. Depending on the nature of the situation, this has different aspects:
  1. For well established organizations, a statement can be submitted by the company’s corporate secretary or attorney, president or any other authorized official who would describe the control and ownership of the qualifying organizations. Accompanying this statement should be the recent annual report of the company, exchange and security commission documentation or any other proof which verifies the parents, child or subsidiaries of the company
  2. For small businesses, a statement like the one mentioned in part (a) has to be submitted along with proof of ownership, stock records, statements showing profit or loss, tax returns and other filings, accountant and audit reports, minutes of board meetings, as well as by-laws of the company.
  3. In the case of new office in the US, financial stability and proof of control and ownership is required for the petition. The statement of control and ownership to be submitted by the petitioner should also be accompanied with related evidence such as minutes of board meetings, by-laws, tax returns, evidence of company capitalization and audit reports.

L1 Visa Processing

Even though the above topics cover everything which comes under what is L1 visa, the visa processing is still untouched. It is offered in two types; regular and premium.

1.    Regular Processing

The time period for regular processing is from three to five months. If the petition is applied under L1 Blanket petition then the time period shortens to a few weeks.

2.    Premium Processing

It provides fast processing and requires very less time as compared to the regular processing. It is guaranteed by the USCIS that the outcome of the petition will be disclosed within fifteen days. The outcome may vary between a notice of intent to deny, notice of approval, notice of denial, a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a notice of misrepresentation of information or fraud.

If the petitioner is opting for premium processing then form I-907 needs to be completed for filing a request for Premium Processing Service, accompanied by the I-129 form, which is the petition for a non-immigrant worker. The fee for premium processing is $1225 which can be either submitted through money order or a check. Electronic fund transfers, credit and debit cards are also acceptable if the bank is in US.

Cost of Petitioning for L1 Visa

The costs of petitioning for L1 visa include a filing fee of $325 as well as an anti-fraud fee of $500. For those organizations that employ fifty or more employees in the US, whose 50% is in the US on L non-immigrant status, then they need to submit an additional fee of $4500 for L1-A and L1-B petitions.

This is all about what is L1 visa and how you can apply for it. We hope that you find this post very useful and informative and that you now know everything about what is L1 visa in detail.