What are L Visas?
Please Note: This post was published in May 2015 and may not contain current information. Please Contact Us for current law questions.
L visas are used by companies to transfer employees from abroad into the United States. The L visa is a great tool to transfer executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge.
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker [http://www.uscis.gov/I-129], with fee, on behalf of the employee. From USCIS page L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
The following points are important considerations when planning an L Visa:
- Generally, it is easier to obtain an L-1A for an executive or manager, rather than an L-1B for a specialized knowledge employee;
- To qualify the L visa employee must have been working for a minimum of one continuous year outside the S. for the sponsoring employer’s organization within the three years preceding the filing of the application;
- The sponsoring S. employer must establish a qualifying relationship with the organization abroad where the employee currently works. This would include that the foreign organization is a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of the U.S. company;
- Foreign companies can plant a new office in the S. and utilize the L visa strategy to transfer employees;
- L visa employees can bring spouse and children as dependents. L visa spouses can obtain work permits;
- L visa employees can possess both non-immigrant and immigrant intent. This would allow a S. sponsor to petition for the employee’s green card;
- L visas are not subject to visa caps and there is no treaty requirement. Thus, this is a great alternative to H-1Bs or E visas.
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