If you own or manage a multinational that also operates in the United States and identify talented individuals that can help the organization grow, one question will run through your mind; how can these employees transfer to the US-based company and work here legally?
Foreign nationals and residents who wish to work in America need a visa. When transferring from a foreign company to its US-based branch, they’ll need to obtain an L-1 visa. Before starting the application process, it’s best to understand what this visa it’s all about, its eligibility requirements, and its restrictions. So, here’s everything you should know about the L-1 visa:
What is an L-1 Visa?
The L-1 visa helps businesses build their operations in the US by transferring talented non-resident employees here. It is available for employers who want to transfer employees from a foreign affiliate, branch, subsidiary, or related corporate entity to the US. This way, a company can expand its American operations with minimal investment in terms of human resources.
There are two types of L-1 visas:
- The L-1A visa is for business managers and executives and has a maximum validity of seven years.
- The L-1B visa is for employees with specialized knowledge, including physicians, lawyers, teachers, and engineers, and has a maximum validity of five years.
To obtain either visa, applicants must prove they possess specialized knowledge of the organization’s processes, services, equipment, and products. They also need to demonstrate advanced knowledge in their profession. The expertise should relate to the organization’s operations.
L-1 Visa Requirements
Foreign nationals who want to transfer from the company they work for to a US-based company must meet these eligibility requirements:
- They must prove there’s a working relationship between the American company and the foreign branch.
- The employees emigrating to the United States must have worked for the foreign subsidiary full-time for at least one year within the last three years preceding their L-1 visa application.
- They must have held an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge role in a foreign company.
- Their forthcoming role in the American company must be in executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity.
L-1 Visa Application Process
Typically, the USCIS offers a specific number of blank “blanket” visas to companies to distribute to their foreign-based employees. However, for regular L-1 visas, an organization needs to file a petition with the USCIS. Each petition also gets evaluated individually and on its merits.
With the blanket L-1 visa petition, the applicants only need to file a copy of the approved petition alongside documents proving their professional qualifications at a United States embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
For regular L-1 visas, a company must submit the application on behalf of its employees. The petition will get evaluated individually, based on the applicant’s qualifications and the legitimacy of the US company and its foreign subsidiary. A skilled California immigration lawyer can assist with this process.
L-1 Visa Restrictions
The maximum stay for the L-1 visa is seven years. Your citizenship significantly determines the validity of your L-1 visa. Iranian nationals, for instance, can only stay for a maximum of three months. On the other hand, Indian, Japanese, and German professionals can obtain a 5-year L-1 visa.
Those with a regular L-1 visa can only work for the petitioning organization. However, if they enter the US with a blanket L-1 visa, they can move to another related company listed on the blanket.
Bringing Your Family with You in the L-1 Visa
Once you obtain the L-1 visa and wish to bring your dependents to the US, they must apply for the L-2 visa. It grants your spouse the automatic right to work here. If your children are under age 21, they can also study but cannot take up paid jobs. The attorneys at The Law Office of Lina Baroudi are very well-versed in these types of cases and are eager to advise throughout this process.
Renewing an L-1 Visa
If your employment contract exceeds the validity of the L-1 visa, you can have it renewed and extended. Typically, L-1 visa renewal in the US only entails an extension of your residency status, rather than getting issued with another visa.
How an Immigration Attorney Can Help
It’s getting increasingly difficult to obtain an L-1 visa. As an employer or employee, you may not be sure whether it’s the appropriate choice. Thus, it’s best to consult a skilled immigration attorney to guide you through the process and ensure that your application has a high chance of approval. They can also help you file the necessary paperwork correctly.
L-1 Visa FAQs
What are the filing fees for L-1 visas?
Regular L-1 visa processing attracts a filing fee of $960. For 15-day premium processing, the petitioning employer must pay $2,500.
What is specialized knowledge?
This is the advanced expertise an individual possesses about the petitioning organization’s operations, products, services, and management.
How do I increase my chances of obtaining the visa?
As the applicant, you must provide all the documentation proving that you possess specialized knowledge. You should also file all the required paperwork on time.