L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visas
The L-1 intracompany transferee nonimmigrant visa is a valuable tool for multinational businesses seeking to transfer executives, upper-level managers and specialized knowledge employees from overseas to provide services to a related parent, affiliate or subsidiary in the United States. L-1 nonimmigration status is available to individuals who have worked abroad for one continuous year during the preceding three years and who are being transferred temporarily to the United States to work as an executive, manager or employee with specialized knowledge. The transferring business and the US business receiving the transferred employee must be related.
The L-1 is a temporary visa that allows the visa holder to remain and work in the United States for a total of five or seven years. The initial term of the visa is three years; however, extensions of two or three years are available. Through extensions, managers and executives may stay in the United States for a total of seven years. Specialized knowledge employees may stay for a total of five years. USCIS will not approve a new individual petition for an L-1 employee until the employee has physically resided outside of the United States for a year.
Specialized knowledge is defined as "Special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures."
The L-1A visa is for managers and executives, while the L-1B is available for specialized knowledge employees. L-2 visas are available for the dependents of the L-1 nonimmigrant. Dependents include spouses and minor children. L-2 spouses are eligible for employment authorization; however, L-2 minor children are not eligible to work.
Petitions for L-1 status are made on Form I-129 with the L supplement. The petition is adjudicated at the USCIS service center. Although USCIS is required to adjudicate all L-1 petitions within 30 days of filing, the agency consistently fails to meet the deadline. Premium processing is available for L-1 petitions. The employing petitioner may pay the additional $1,225 fee, and USCIS guarantees adjudication within 15 days of filing or the $1,225 fee is refunded.
For employers that anticipate numerous L-1 intra-company transfers in the future, a Blanket L Petition might be a convenient option to consider.
The L-1 petition and extension process can be complex and confusing. Having an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney handle the process is advisable. Contact The Nuñez Firm to discuss your business's immigration needs and schedule a consultation.
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