As you know, the ‘American Dream’ has always fascinated and attracted individuals worldwide. Many people dream of working in the United States of America. But, dreams aside, you must qualify to come to the U.S. and then have the opportunity to come. This may sound like a difficult and daunting process, so today, we’re here to discuss how this visa allows managers, executives, and “specialized knowledge” employees who work outside the U.S., to move and perform services inside the U.S. for a company that has an affiliation with their current company. More specifically, we will talk about the L-1 visa, which is also known as the Intracompany Transferee Visa. The L-1 visa is a popular way to work in the U.S. However, just like every other visa classification, not everyone who applies gets approved. With the denial rates rising each year, it pays to be informed.
What is an L-1 Visa?
An L-1 visa is the most commonly used visa by companies who wish to either transfer employees and insert new knowledge into their overseas entity; or for foreign companies who wish to open up a new company in the U.S.
The employee that is transferred must work for the U.S. company as a manager, executive, or person with specialized knowledge. If the employee works as a manager or an executive, the subcategory classification is an L-1A visa. If the employee works as a person with specialized knowledge, the subcategory classification is an L-1B visa.
Now please note that the L-1 visa is not eligible for self-petition. The U.S. or foreign company must file the petition on the employees’ behalf.
L-1 Visa Type and Procedures:
⦁ L-1A visa is reserved for managers and executives.
⦁ The maximum visa validity is for a period of 7 years. After the visa expires, the individual must exit the U.S., and can re-qualify for the L-1 visa after working overseas for a minimum period of one continuous year for the subsidiary, parent, branch, or affiliate of the company in U.S.
⦁ L-1B visa is reserved for workers who have specialized knowledge.
⦁ The maximum visa validity is for a period of 5 years. After the visa expires, the individual must exit the U.S., and can re-qualify for the L-1 visa after working overseas for a minimum period of one continuous year for the subsidiary, parent, branch, or affiliate of the company in U.S.
⦁ The only caveat to exiting the U.S. is if the employee changes his or her status to a different visa that allows the employee to stay long, which we will discuss in another video.
Two Available Procedures for Applying for the L-1 visa:
⦁ The regular procedure requires the sponsoring company to file the L-1 visa application for which USCIS will review the credentials of the company and the individual to ensure both qualify for the visa.
⦁ Another way is to obtain a Blanket L-1 Visa Approval. The Blanket L petition allows large multinational companies to receive approval to transfer employees quickly and on short notice. However, we do still need to provide the necessary documents that show that the specific foreign worker is eligible for the position. In a way, it is a preapproval where USCIS would have already decided the company’s eligibility; hence the applicant will only have to provide a copy of the blanket petition that has been approved along with necessary documents.
Requirements for L-1 Visa
There are a number of basic requirements for an L-1 Visa.
The basic requirements include:
⦁ The U.S. company (branch, subsidiary, affiliate, etc.) petitioning for the visa, must have a qualifying relationship with the parent company.
⦁ For the entire period of the visa holder’s stay in the States, the company that petitioned for this visa must be engaged in business as an employer in the States and a minimum of one other country.
L-1A Requirements for Employee:
⦁ The employee should have worked overseas for a company for a minimum period of one continuous year within 3 years before his/her admission to the States.
⦁ The employee must have been in a managerial or executive position to qualify.
⦁ The employee must be going to the States to provide his/her services in a managerial or executive capacity for the qualifying organization such as a branch of the employer.
⦁ The holder of this visa must have intentions to depart the country after completion of the stay.
L-1B Requirements for Employee:
⦁The employee must have worked overseas for a company for a minimum period of one continuous year within 3 years before his/her admission to the States.
⦁ The employee will have to work with the company to provide specialized services to the qualifying organization and therefore hold specialized knowledge.
⦁ Visa holders must intend to leave the country after completion of work.
How to Apply for an L-1 Visa
Here’s a simplified breakdown of the process of getting an L-1 Visa:
Step 1 – Hire an Immigration Lawyer
⦁ The L-1 visa is an extremely complex visa category that requires experience, careful preparation, and strategy.
⦁ An immigration lawyer will walk you through the process step-by-step, conduct an in-depth consultation with you, and provide you with a detailed list of the documents they need to prepare your L-1 petition.
Step 2 – Document Gathering
⦁ At this stage, you and the company will gather all the necessary documentation identified by your immigration lawyer, including a detailed description of your proposed job for the U.S. company, evidence of your employment with the foreign company, and other pertinent evidence.
Step 3 – File Form I-129 and L Supplement
⦁ The Form I-129 is the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
⦁ This is the Form your immigration lawyer will file to qualify you for an L-1 visa.
⦁ Your immigration lawyer will also file the L-supplement along with the I-129.
Important Note: The L-1 visa cannot be filed through self-petition. Your U.S. employer is the petitioner and you, the prospective L-1 recipient, are the beneficiary.
⦁ All of the supporting documents, such as your evidence of employment with the foreign company, CV, etc. will also be included with the I-129.
⦁ Once your I-129 is approved, you are eligible to apply for an L-1 visa at an embassy or consulate abroad.
⦁ If you are doing a Change of Status, your steps are complete upon that I-129 approval.
Step 4 – Apply for L-1 Visa
⦁ If you are not doing a Change of Status, then you will likely be applying for your L-1 visa at the Consulate of Embassy in your home country.
⦁ Upon approval of your I-129, you are eligible to apply for your L-1 visa.
⦁ Your immigration lawyer can assist you with scheduling an interview at the Consulate and preparing the necessary documents.
Documents Required for L-1 Visa
The following documents are required for L-1 visa:
⦁ Recent passport size photograph
⦁ Form DS-160
⦁ Interview appointment letter (original and photocopy)
⦁ I-797 Approval Notice for Form I-129
⦁ Fee payment confirmation
⦁ Work experience letters
⦁ Certificates of training undertaken, degree
⦁ Information regarding the U.S. company
⦁ Photographs of the place of employment
Overall, the L-1 visa is a powerful tool for intracompany transferees from a foreign company to a related U.S. company. With an L-1 visa, you can live and work in the United States for extended periods of time.
Please note that the L-1 visa is highly complex visa. In recent years, USCIS has become much stricter and more critical over L-1 petitions based on widespread abuse. Consequently, a lot of highly technical and detailed information in required. If you have any questions or need help filing your L-1 petition, email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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