L-1 Visas

What You Need To Know Regarding L-1 Visas

An L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa  that may be obtained by executives, managers or specialized employees  of an existing foreign company. These employees must have worked abroad  at the foreign company in their managing role for one of the past three  years to qualify.

Types Of L-1 Visas

There are two types of L visas that can be obtained by employees: L-1A and L-1B.

An L-1A visa is reserved for an employee who serves the foreign  corporation in either an executive or managerial capacity, meaning that  the employee has wide latitude to make high-level decisions for the  corporation without experiencing much oversight. L-1A employees  supervise and manage the work of other employees and are ultimately  responsible for the work product of those who work underneath them.

An L-1B visa is reserved for employees who may not be employed in an  executive or managerial capacity, but who have specialized knowledge  about the field or corporation that is not common, either within the  field or organization. The employee with specialized knowledge  essentially refers to an employee who performs a specialized key role  within the corporation, more than a normal specialized professional  would.

Businesses And L-1 Visas

More than individuals, corporations benefit from the L-1 visas.  Though any business can take advantage of the L-1 visa, there are two  main types of businesses that do: expanding businesses and large or  multinational corporations.

A foreign corporation wishing to expand its business into the United  States markets by sending some of its personnel to the United States and  starting a new office will usually go the L-1A route. To establish a  new office in the United States, the foreign corporation must have  secured physical premises for its office. The corporation will then send  over the employees who have L-1 visas to start working at the office.

Once the employees arrive, the United States branch of the  corporation must begin doing business as an employer in the United  States. If after one year the branch is still doing business for the  foreign corporation in the United States, the L-1 visas will be  extended. A common example that our office sees is a manufacturing  company from another country that wishes to gain more U.S. clients or  bypass middlemen by directly establishing a sales office in the United  States. That nonU.S. company will apply for the L-1A visa for a manager  who knows the business of the nonU.S. company well enough to run a new  office set up in the United States.

A large or multinational corporation that has many employees and  wants to transfer its employees wholesale to an existing branch in the  United States may apply for an L-1 blanket petition. These corporations  must already be engaged in a significant amount of trade in the United  States and already employ a significant amount of employees at its U.S.  branch. Using the L-1 blanket petition program, the corporation only  needs to apply once. Once approved, it can then apply the blanket visa  to as many managerial, executive or specialized employees it wishes to  send to the United States. Large multinational corporations such as HSBC  or Toyota commonly use this method to send high-level employees to the  United States.

L-1 Visa Documentation

visa requires significant documentation from both the parent  company and the subsidiary/affiliate company, regardless of whether the  corporation is filing for a new office or a blanket petition visa. These  documents include: proof of doing business, corporate formation  documents, and proof of capitalization of the corporations.

Advantages Of The L-1 Visa

There are many advantages to L-1 visas. Unlike other work visas,  there are no salary or educational requirements. L-1 visas may be  renewed for a total of seven years for executives or five years for  specialized employees. L-1 visas may be transferred to EB-1 green card status after a reasonable period of time holding the L-1. This is because the  L-1 visa has presumed dual intent, and thus the process of adjusting  status is much easier than with other visas. L-1 visa holders may travel  in and out of the United States with impunity. Additionally, one of the  best advantages of the L-1 visa is that the holder’s immediate family  is automatically granted L-2 visas. This means that the immediate family  automatically obtains work authorization, and their visas are  automatically renewed with the L-1. The L-1 visa has no annual quota  unlike the H-1B visa.

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