1. What is an L1 visa?
The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals being transferred by their current employer to enter into the U.S. to manage an organization or a major function or division of any related organization.
2. How do I qualify for L-1 visa?
To qualify for an L-1 visa, your:
- U.S. company to which you are being transferred must be a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner of your non-U.S. employer
- Employment in the U.S. company must be as a manager, executive or person with specialized knowledge and skills
3. What privileges do I enjoy on L-1 visa?
On L-1 visa, you may:
- Be transferred to the U.S. and work legally for a U.S. company that is a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner of a company that already employs you outside of the U.S.
- Be quickly issued your visa
- Be permitted to travel in and out of the U.S. or remain here continuously until your L-1 status expires
- Avail of visas for accompanying relatives
- Apply for a Green Card through employment and skip a major step of that process (no Labor Certification requirements)
4. What are the limitations of L-1 visa?
On L-1 visa, you may:
- Work only for the U.S. employer who acted as your L-1 visa sponsor
- Get visa approval for up to three years. Extensions of two years at a time may be allowed until you have been in the U.S. for a total of seven years if you are a manager or executive, five years if you come as a specialized knowledge employee
5. What is the difference between L-1A visa and L-1B visa?
The L-1A visa is for managers and executives. On L-1A visa you may apply for a Green Card without going through the process of Labor Certification.
6. What is the processing time for L-1 visa?
After signing all documents it could take two to four months to process a normal L-1 and one to three weeks to process an L-1 covered by an L-1 Blanket approval.
7. Can I extend my stay on L-1 visa?
Yes, you may apply for L-1 visa extension using Form I-129, and L Supplement. Extensions of two years at a time may be allowed until you have been in the U.S. for a total of seven years if you are a manager or executive, or for a total of five years if you are a Specialized knowledge employee.
8. Is it possible to speed up the process of procuring an L-1 visa?
Yes, the USCIS has instituted a program called Premium Processing. If the USCIS is paid an extra $1,000 on a separate check, the USCIS guarantees it will adjudicate the petition in 15 days or notify you if more evidence is needed.
9. Who can qualify as L-1 Executive?
Any person who has worked for a corporation or company for at least one year as Manager or Executive in the preceding three years may qualify as L-1 Executive.
10. What is the definition of a Manager for L-1 visa purpose?
The definition of manager for L-1 visas includes an employee who manages an essential function of the business within a qualifying organization. A special definition of Manager applies when you are coming to set up a new U.S. office or purchase a new business. The USCIS regulations provide that in a new office situation it must be shown that the new office will be able to sustain a Manager or Executive transferee within one year of approval of the petition. This may be done through submission of a statement by the employer to the USCIS including:
- Proposed nature of the office, describing the scope of the entity, its organization structure, and its financial goals
- Size of the U.S. investment and the financial ability of the foreign entity to remunerate the L-1 beneficiary and to commence doing business in the U.S.
11. What is the minimum educational requirement and business experience for an Executive or Manager to get L-1 visa?
There is no minimum educational requirement for L-1 visa, however, you must have:
- Worked for a corporation as Executive or high level Manager, or
- Managed an essential function of the business, such as marketing or accounting functions with proper education to back it up, for at least one year in the preceding three years
12. If I have worked as a Manager in a key position for a company or corporation in my country do I qualify for L-1 visa?
Yes, if your company can send you to the U.S. to work for a branch office, subsidiary or affiliate, or to open and manage a franchise or non-franchise business.
13. What are the documents required to apply for L-1 visa?
The documents required for L-1 visa application are:
- Filled-in visa application Form DS-160
- One recent passport size photograph, 50mm X 50mm of each applicant showing full face without head covering against a light background
- A passport, valid for travel to the U.S. for at least six months longer than your intended visit
- Employee copy of Form I-797 Approval Notice
- Copy of Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant visa. This petition is filed with the USCIS by your employer and must be approved before you can apply for your L-1 Visa.
14. What is an L-1 petition?
A petition is the process by which the USCIS determines that you meet the basic qualifications for a particular visa. It is through the L-1 petition process that the USCIS determines that you have the experience and background to qualify as an L-1 worker.
15. What documents are required to apply for an L-1 petition?
Along with your L-1 petition, you must submit an original and signed letter from your company confirming your:
- Present employment, your position, and length of service with the company
- Company knows about and authorizes your transfer to the U.S. company
- U.S. company’s name and full address. If more than one location is involved, supply the names and addresses of all locations
- Statement about the position you will fill in the U.S.
16. Can my L-1 petition be filed outside the U.S.?
No, your L-1 petition has to be filed in the U.S. It cannot be filed at an American Consulate overseas.
17. Can I come to the U.S. on a visitor visa or Visa Waiver while the L-1 petition is being processed?
This is possible but not advisable. Under no account should you risk putting in jeopardy the issue of an L-1 visa by engaging in anything that might be construed as work. This could lead to your being accused of visa-fraud either on entry to the U.S. with a visitor visa/visa-waiver or when you apply for an L-1 visa at the U.S. consulate in your own country.
18. How can I avail of faster green card processing on L-1 status?
L-1 foreign nationals who are managers and executives are eligible for the ‘priority workers’ category. Foreign nationals falling into this category may apply for permanent residency without having to undergo the time consuming labor certification process.
19. What is Advance Parole?
If you are applying for Adjustment of Status to permanent resident, you must receive advance permission to return to the U.S. if you are traveling outside the U.S. This advance permission is called Advance Parole. If you do not apply for Advance Parole before you leave the country, you will abandon your application with the USCIS and you may not be permitted to return to the U.S.
20. Can I travel after applying for Green Card on L-1 status?
Yes, if you are in a valid L-1 status you do not need an Advance Parole if you have applied for a Green Card. However, you must be coming back in to work with the same employer that applied for your L-1. Your spouse and children can also travel and the same rules apply.
21. What is the labor certification process?
Labor Certification is a laborious procedure requiring that the employer prove that there are no minimally qualified U.S. workers to fill the foreign national’s position. The procedure is complicated, expensive, and there is no guarantee that it will eventually lead to a green card. Thus, avoiding this procedure is a prudent course to take when examining routes to permanent residency.
22. What is the visa status given to the dependents of a L-1 visa?
L-2 Visa is issued to the dependents of US L-1 visa holders. Dependents include the spouse and unmarried children below 21 years of age.
23. Can my dependents work in the U.S. on L-1 visa?
L-2 spouse of an L-1 visa holder can now obtain a general Employment Authorization. This employment authorization must be applied for separately, though. The L-2 child is not permitted to work.
24. Can I transfer or change jobs on an L-1 visa?
Yes. A foreign national in the US on an L-1 visa is limited to working in L-1 status for a qualifying member of the multinational group (parent, subsidiary, sister, branch, or affiliated company) that sponsored him or her. If the individual entered the US on a regular L-1 visa the USCIS must be notified of any change in employment. If the individual entered the US on a Blanket L-1 they may move between any of the group members listed on the Blanket L without further notification to the USCIS. Any employment outside of a qualifying member of the multinational group will require a different type of visa.
25. What happens if my employer fires me while I am in the U.S. on an L-1 visa?
You have a short grace period in which you may look for a new job, and have it approved by the USCIS. Barring that, you need to return to your home country.
26. Can I work for any other company other than the company that sponsored my L-1 visa?
No, you may not be permitted to work for a company other than the one that has sponsored your L-1 visa.
27. Is there a requirement to pay L-1 workers the 'prevailing wage'?
No, there is no such requirement, but paying L-1 workers significantly below the prevailing wage or the wages of your U.S. resident staff is likely to result in the USCIS viewing your petition unfavorably. It could also result in investigations by the USCIS or Department of Labor.
28. Can I move L-1 employees to different sites around the U.S.?
Yes, you may move L-1 employees to different sites provided they remain under your management and control.
29. Can L-1 employees work part-time?
Yes, L-1 employees may work part-time.
30. What benefits will I get by applying for L-1 visa when compared to E-2 treaty investor visa?
The two major benefits of L-1 visa over E-2 visa are:
31. Once my L-1 petition is approved, can I form a new corporation and purchase a new business under the new corporation?
Yes, you may purchase new business, as long as long it is done under the same corporation name. You may not change employers or corporation without filing a new L-1 petition.
32. Is there any limit on the number of L-1 visas available in a year?
No, there is no annual cap on the number of L-1 visas.
33. What is L-1 Blanket petition?
The L-1 Blanket petition is a procedure through which a very large company can pre-qualify to transfer their L-1 employees. Once the L-1 Blanket is approved, the company can transfer personnal to the U.S. quickly and on short notice without having to file a petition with USCIS.