L-1A and L-1B Visas and Blanket L Petitions for Intra-company Transferees
The “intra-company” L-1A and L-1B visa category is designed to enable U.S. employers with a foreign parent company, subsidiary, or office to transfer certain employees from the foreign entity to the U.S. organization.
The L-1A visa applies to managers and executives. The L-1B visa is designed for employees with specialized knowledge who have unique skills and information pertaining to the company’s products, services, research, equipment and/or processes.
A person is considered an L-1A Manager if they:
- Manage an organization, department subdivision, function or component of an organization,
- Supervise the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees,
- Have the authority to hire, fire or recommend personnel actions over those he/she supervises while acting within a senior level of an organizational hierarchy, and
- Have discretion over day to day operations of an activity or function for which the employee has authority.
A person is considered an L-1A Executive if they:
- Direct the management of an organization or who directs a major component or function of the organization,
- Establish the goals and policies of the organization, component and/or function,
- Exercise wide latitude in discretionary decision making within the organization,
- Receive only general direction from higher level executives, board of directors or stockholders of an organization.
Specialized Knowledge Worker
A person is considered a Specialized Knowledge worker if they:
- Possess unique information about the petitioning company's products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, or proprietary processes and procedures.
It is possible to change from L-1B to L-1A classification while in the United States, but there are special rules regarding this change. Please contact our office to learn more about this strategy.
Required Qualifying Employment and Maximum Periods of Stay for L-1A and L-1B Nonimmigrants
To be eligible for an L visa, a person must be employed full-time at the overseas entity for at least one year during the three years before filing the petition, or before the last entry into the United States, whichever is earlier.
L-1A Transferees are entitled to an initial period of stay of up to three years and two subsequent two-year extensions for a total period of up to seven years of physical presence in the United States.
L-1B transferees are entitled to an initial three-year period of stay and one two-year extension for a total period of up to five years of physical presence in the United States.
Qualifying organizations include subsidiaries, parents, affiliates, branches, and joint ventures. As a general rule, if the company abroad and the company to which the employee is being transferred in the United States have a common parent (at least 50%), they are considered affiliates. Companies that do not meet this 50% requirement may still qualify as Qualifying Organizations if the two companies can prove that there is "common control" over the two entities through voting rights, veto powers, powers of appoint of executive officers etc.
A new business entity that is a Qualifying Organization may employ L-1 personnel, but if the business has been established for less than one year, the immigration service may grant petitions for a limited probationary period of up to one year.
The Blanket L
The Blanket L petition is an attractive option for multinational employers who meet specific eligibility criteria including:
- The U.S. operation has been doing business for one year or more;
- Has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates;
- Combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
- Has obtained approval of petitions for at least ten “L” managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals during the preceding 12 months
Once approved, the Blanket L considerably simplifies and reduces the processing time for transferring a foreign national employee to the U.S., and makes the entire process more reliable.
Please contact our office for more details concerning the L visa category.