Do I Qualify For L1 Visa?
An L1 visa is a document that
allows foreign nationals to work, without restriction, in the United States for
up to three years. It is primarily a
corporate visa and is used by employers to shuffle employees from their home
countries to US offices. The two
companies must be affiliated in some manner, either as a parent-child
organizational structure or as sister companies. It is not an immigration visa but can be used
to apply for a green card at a later date.
What are the types of L-1 Visas?
There are different types of L1
visas for different types of workers.
These visas vary in length. The
worker, upon receiving either of these visas, may travel to the US to work in
an office affiliated with his or her company, or help establish a local
affiliate. The L-1A classification is
for executives and managers and is valid for seven years. The L1-B classification is for specialized knowledge
and is valid for five years. L1-B visas
are used especially for IT workers born in India that apply their specialized
knowledge for a US subsidiary.
How does one apply for an L-1
Usually, a worker will have to
file a regular petition, which is subject to approval by the US Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS). Some
companies that require the large scale transfers of employees may be eligible
for blanket visa procedures. For this
procedure, the employee merely files a petition with supporting documents and
the process is streamlined to obtain a visa.
For instance, blanket visa holders need not file another petition to
renew their status.
Step by Step:
The visa seeker must ensure they meet all of the
listed requirements, especially the requirement that they have worked for the
employer for at least one year in a professional capacity. Depending on the employee’s status in the
company, such as specialized knowledge or a management role, may entitle the
visa seeker to a different class of L-1 visa which allows for a longer stay.
The visa seeker must fill out for I-129,
Petition for a non-immigrant worker.
There are 35 pages but all sections need not be
filled out by an L-1 applicant. Read the
Recent changes include asking the applicant
about controlled technology and technical data the employee could potentially
access in the United States.
After the I-129 has been completed, submit the
form, along with $325 dollars to the nearest US consulate or embassy.
The consulate may require an RFE (Request for
Evidence) correspondence to clear up missing or unclear parts of the
petition. Failure to answer the RFE will
entail an automatic denial.
The consular office will issue an I-797 Notice
of Action to the applicant which signifies that the petition is approved.
The applicant is now cleared to apply for the
visa at the nearest US consulate.
The visa is usually, but not always issued after
that. A visa will not be issued if the
USCIS determines that the company does not meet the requirements to operate in
the United States or that fraud has been committed on the part of the applicant
What are the requirements for a
The US government requires the
employer to have over 1,000 employees and a US office that has been in
operation for over a year. Additionally,
the employer must be engaged in selling commercial goods and services and have
more than three foreign or domestic branches.
Lastly, the employer with under a thousand employees must either have
obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period or have
its US branches gross $25 million.
A blanket petition allows for a
faster approval process for individual applicants with minimal paperwork on the
part of the employee or employer.
Blanket petitions can also be renewed within the US unlike other
petitions that require the employee to return home and reapply for their visa to
re-enter the country.
For family members
A spouse and
minors may file an L-2 petition to join an L-1 visa holder in the United
States. The spouse will also be able to
work and the children may attend school.
The children however may not accept employment. The spouse must receive an Employment
Authorization Document from the USCIS and can then apply for a Social Security
number and begin employment.
In accordance with the North
American Free Trade Act, a Canadian citizen need not petition in advance and
can apply for an L-1 visa at the port of entry.
For workers establishing new
If the foreign worker intends to
set up a US office for his or her company they must demonstrate that the
organization or company has secured a physical space for the new office and
that the employer has the capability to do business in the United States. Employees establishing offices may stay for
up to one year which allowances for renewal depending on the type of visa. L1-B holders for example may extend their
stay in increments of two years until the five-year maximum is reached.
How might the consulate determine
visa fraud has been committed?
of Homeland Security has found an increase of visa holders not possessing the
specialized knowledge required for L-1B eligibility. Such is fraud on the part of the employer to
get around H1-B visa quotas. The L-1
visa is desirable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is an absence
of meaningful scrutiny of the visa holder’s qualifications and the ability of
the spouse to seek employment in the United States. If the visa seeker is found to be unskilled
or terminates employment soon after arriving in the US, the visa petition may
L-1 visa holders
may pursue immigration to the United States with their visa. By the doctrine of dual intent, this means
that the worker may come to the United States with the intention of working for
the employer, but also have immigrant intent to pursue the process by which they
may gain a green card and remain in the United States as a permanent resident.