L-1 General Qualifications
The L-1 visa category is available for foreign employees who have worked overseas for at least one year within the previous three years immediately preceding transfer to a U.S. company that is a subsidiary, parent, branch or affiliate of the foreign employee’s overseas employer and is engaged in active business. The contemplated U.S. employment must be in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity.
L-1 Qualifying Positions
The contemplated U.S. employment must be in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity. Personnel transferred to the United States to assume executive or managerial positions are given L-1A classification. Staff transferred to the United States to assume specialized knowledge positions are given L-1B classification.
Executive Positions (L-1A)
Executive capacity positions for U.S. immigration purposes normally involve directing the management of an organization or a major component or function of an organization. Further, an executive position establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component or function, and exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making while receiving only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the business.
Managerial Positions (L-1A)
Managerial capacity positions for U.S. immigration purposes include both the traditional manager and the functional manager. Managerial capacity positions include the following responsibilities:
- manages the organization or a department, 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 or other personnel actions; or if no employees are supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
- exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.
A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.
Specialized Knowledge Positions (L-1B)
For purposes of the L-1 visa category, specialized knowledge means an individual possesses special knowledge of the organization’s products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its applications in international markets as well as an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
Time Limits on L-1 Visas
L-1A visas have a maximum admission period of seven years. L-1B visas have a maximum admission period of five years.
If the U.S. petitioning corporation has been engaged in active business for less than one complete year, the initial period of L-1 status allowed is only one year. Extensions in two-year increments are allowed. If the U.S. petitioning entity has been active for more than one year, L-1 status is authorized for an initial period of three years. Extensions in two-year increments are allowed up to the maximum period.
The L-1 Blanket Program for Larger Multinationals
Larger multinational corporations are eligible for the L-1 Blanket Program. Participants in the L-1 Blanket Program enjoy expedited transfer of overseas executives, managers and specialized knowledge employees to the United States.
To qualify for participation in the L-1 Blanket Program, the U.S. petitioning company must meet the following criteria:
- The U.S. petitioning company and each of the qualifying entities must be engaged in a commercial trade or in commercial services;
- The U.S. petitioning entity must have an office in the United States that has been doing business for at least one year;
- The U.S. petitioning entity has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliate and meets one of the following three additional requirements:
- Obtained approvals for at least ten L-1 managers, executives or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous twelve months; or
- Achieved annual sales of at least U.S.$25 million; or
- Employs a U.S. workforce of at least one thousand employees.
The spouse and all unmarried children under age of 21-years old receive L-2 visas. These family members may attend school in the United States. Further, the spouse of an L-1 visa holder may seek employment authorization in the United States.