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Intra-company Transferees (L-1 visa)

The L-1 visa category is used to facilitate the transfer of worldwide personnel to a United States entity that is a parent, affiliate subsidiary, joint venture, or operating division, of a foreign enterprize.  Individual candidates must meet the statutory definition of manager, executive or specialized knowledge worker.  These workers come to the U.S. as intra-company transferees who are coming temporarily to perform services either

  • in a managerial or executive capacity -L-1A or
  • which entail specialized knowledge -L-1B

for a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same employer that employed the professional abroad. The employee must have been employed abroad for the corporation, firm, or other legal entity on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three-year period to qualify. There is currently no annual cap on L-1 visas.

Benefits: The employer is not required to obtain a labor certification prior to petitioning in this category. Compensation level is not  scrutinized, but must only be sufficient to prevent the worker from becoming a public charge.

Dependents (L-2 Visa) 
Dependents (i.e. spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of L-1 workers are entitled to L-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S. while remaining in L-2 status, and, dependents may now be employed under the L-2 classification.

Petition Document Requirements

The petition must be filed with:

1) Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S. and the foreign employer which address ownership and control, such as an annual report, copies of articles of incorporation, financial statements, or stock certificates;

2) A letter from the worker's foreign qualifying employer detailing his or her dates of employment, job duties, qualifications and salary and demonstrating that the alien worked for the employer abroad for at least one continuous year within the three-year period before the filing of the petition in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge; and

3) A detailed description of the proposed job duties and qualifications and evidence the proposed employment is in an executive or managerial capacity or in a position involving specialized knowledge.

If the worker is coming to the U.S. as a manager or executive (L-1A) to open or to be employed in a new office, also evidence that:

1) Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;

2) The beneficiary has, or upon establishment will have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign employer and the qualifying position;and
3) The intended U.S. operation will be able to support the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
This must be supported by information regarding:
  • the proposed nature of the U.S. office (size and scope, organizational structure, and financial goals),
  • financial information about the foreign entity (the size of the U.S. investment and the financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the U.S.), and
  • the organizational structure of the foreign entity.

If the worker is coming to the U.S. in a specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B) to open or to be employed in a new office, you must present evidence that:

  • Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;
  • The business entity in the U.S is or will be a qualifying organization
  • The petitioner has the financial ability to compensate the alien beneficiary and to begin doing business in the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the purpose of L-1 Visa?

A: The L-1 visa is an incredibly useful visa that is available to employees of foreign companies. The purpose of the L-1 visa is to facilitate the transfer of key employees, to the United States from companies that are affiliated with or related to United States corporations. Nationals of all countries are eligible, provided the specific qualifications for the visa are satisfied.


Is the L-1 visa holder allowed to have both intent to return to home country and possibly decide to move permanently to United States?

A: Yes. An L-1 visa does not preclude the person from seeking lawful permanent residence while being in the United Sates on an L-1 visa.

Who needs to file L visa and what form should be filed to obtain an L visa?

A: A U.S. employer seeking to transfer a qualifying employee of the same organization to the United States must do so by filing a petition for the worker on Form I-129 and the special L supplement with the USCIS.

What are considered "key employees?"

A: What they mean are executives, managers, and those with specialized knowledge of the company or product. The two types of employees who may be sponsored for L-1 visas:


The executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L-1A visa, initially for a three year period extendible in two year increments to a maximum of seven years.

L-1B: Specialized Knowledge Staff:

This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, research, systems, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures. Staff in this category are issued an L-1B visa, initially for three years and can be extended to a maximum of five years.

How long can I stay in the United States if I have the L-1 Visa?

A: The L-1A visa has duration up to seven years for managers and executives and L-1B up to five years for persons of specialized knowledge. The duration of stay is issued for an initial period of three years and may be extended for additional periods. The immigration rules permit an L-1 specialized knowledge employee to extend stay to the seven-year limit if the specialized knowledge employee had actually been performing executive or managerial duties for the preceding six months prior to the extension request, and the USCIS had been notified of the change of duties through the filing of an amended petition.

In the case of a new office, the visa is issued for only one year and extensions are possible. Extensions can be granted in two-year increments: executives and managers can obtain two such extensions, and specialized knowledge personnel one such extension.

How long must the foreign worker have been employed by the overseas company?

A: The employee who is to be transferred must have been continuously employed by the overseas company for a period of at least one year out of the last three years prior to entry to the United States. Short business or pleasure trips to the United States during the one year period will not disqualify the employee from the visa; however, extended trips or visits to the United States may be considered by the USCIS as an interruption of the one-year foreign employment requirement.

What kind of relationship is required between the overseas and the U.S. companies?

A: The prior employer/foreign company must be related to the U.S. company, either as a subsidiary, affiliate or division. In most cases, the relationship must be documented to the USCIS. The documentation of the U.S.-foreign corporation relationship may not need to be documented in the case of large, well-known multinational corporations.

Does the qualifying company have to be a corporation?

A: No. The immigration regulations permit business entities other than a corporation to petition as a qualifying company.  Partnerships and even sole proprietorships can be considered qualifying companies for L-1 visa purposes. In a non-corporate situation, it is important to establish that the employing company is a separate entity from the employee being transferred.

What if the overseas company ceases to exist?

A:  If the foreign entity ceases to exist or ceases to stop function as a viable business entity, then the L-visa of the employee is not viable.

What are a foreign workers' job requirements for his position in the United States for an L visa?

A: The law requires that the L-1 visa holder to be a manager, executive or a person with specialized knowledge in the foreign entity and continue to act in these qualifying capacities in the U.S. company.

Who is a "manager" for the purpose of L visa?

A: The definitions of "manager" is the following:

1. Someone who primarily manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. The addition of the concept function gives the definition more usefulness for smaller companies or companies in which a key function is primarily managed and run by the same person or

2. Someone who primarily supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization; or

3. Someone who has the authority to hire and fire and recommend those as well as other personnel actions if another employee or other employees are supervised; if no other employees are supervised, functions at a senior level within he organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; or

4. Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

Who is an "executive" for the purpose of the L-1 Visa?

A: An executive is someone who

1. Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function,

2. Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;

3. Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and

4. Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors or stockholders of the organization.

Who is a "person of specialized knowledge"?

A: A qualified person of specialized knowledge must have special or unique knowledge of the petitioning organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures. "Special knowledge" is knowledge that is different from or exceeds the ordinary or usual knowledge of an employee in a particular field.

 Does the position to be filled in the U.S. company have to be identical with the one held by the foreign worker abroad?


A: There is no requirement that the position to be filled by the employee be identical to that previously held abroad, or that it have all of the same responsibilities, but the position in the United States must be at least of the equivalent classification as the original one.

Is there annual quota for L-1 visa?

A: The L-1 visa has no annual quota.

Can my family join me if I obtain L-1 visa?

A: Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of L-1 workers may receive L-2 status. A recent change in the law allows spouses and children to obtain work authorization in the United States, and they may study at U.S. schools and universities. The spouse and children of the L-1 visa-holder are admitted as L-2 visa holders.

What are the primary advantages of obtaining an L-1 visa?

A: The L-1 category offers several advantages over other types of work visas. No annual limit exists on the number of visas issued, and L-1 visa holders may pursue permanent residency.  Some L-1 managers and executives may petition for a green card without the need for labor certification. In addition, dependents of L-1 visa may obtain work authorization.

Does the U.S. employer need to provide prevailing wage,like H-1B visas?

A: No. U.S. employers are not required to show that the employee meets the prevailing wage of similarly employed U.S. workers. Income in the United States must only be sufficient to prevent the employee from requiring public assistance.

What is the filing fee of L-1 visa?

A: The basic filing fee for the required USCIS petition is currently $325. In addition, there is an L visa fraud prevention and detection fee of $500 applies to visa petitioners. In addition, there is an additional fee of $2,000 which only applies if the employer has more than 50 employees in the U.S. and more than 50% of them are here on H or L visa status.

If the applicant is overseas when the petitioner applies for him or her, there is also a US Department of State visa fee that must be paid at the US Consulate abroad before the travel visa will be issued.  This fee is currently $150.00.

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

The Law Office of Janis Peterson-Lord is located in Long Beach, CA and serves clients in and around Long Beach, Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia, Harbor City, Wilmington, Cerritos, Bellflower, San Pedro, Carson, Paramount, Compton, Norwalk, Woodland Hills, Torrance, Lynwood, Santa Fe Springs, South Gate, Gardena, Bell, Huntington Park, Pico Rivera, Maywood, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Orange County.


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