Foreign nationals can acquire visas by expanding their business to the United States. The L-1 visa enables United States employers to transfer existing executives, managers, or employees with specialized knowledge from an affiliated foreign office to an office in the United States. Alternatively, the foreign company can send an executive or manager to the United States to set up a new office or company.
There are two types of L-1 visas: L-1A visa pertains to executives or managers, who will oversee the business and daily operations of the United States company; L-1B visa pertains to professional employees with specialized knowledge of the product, services, or process of the foreign company.
Beneficiaries of approved L-1 petitions can bring their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay. In addition, authorized spouses may work in the United States.
To begin the process, the United States company must file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition must demonstrate that the following requirements are met:
1. Qualifying relationship between the U.S. company and company abroad;
2. U.S. company and company abroad will be doing business;
3. L-1 Transferee has worked for the foreign company for at least 1 of the 3 preceding years before the filing of the petition;
4. L-1 Transferee’s employment overseas was in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity;
5. Employment in the U.S. will be in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity;
6. L-1 Transferee is qualified for the job;
7. Employment in the U.S. is temporary.
The maximum length of stay for managers or executives with L-1A visas is 7 years, whereas the maximum length of stay for specialized knowledge employees with L-1B visas is 5 years.
The L visa is a popular option for foreign nationals seeking to relocate to the United States due to its many advantages and potential pathway to permanent residence. As dual-intent is allowed for L visas, L visa holders can file for a green card in the United States without potentially jeopardizing their visa status. Additionally, there is no annual cap on the number of L-1 visas available each year so there is no wait time. This advantageous visa option allows the L-1 Transferee’s family to obtain L-2 visas, where the spouse and children can lawfully work and attend school in the U.S.