L-1 visas are for intracompany transferees. Generally speaking, the alien must have worked in one of the three preceding years for the sponsoring company or corporation abroad in executive capacity, managerial capacity, or as an alien with "specialized knowledge."
Employees of an international company who are being transferred to a parent branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the same company in the United States may apply for Intra Company transfer (L-1) visas. The international company may be either a U.S. or foreign organization. To qualify, the employee must be at the managerial or executive level, or have specialized knowledge and be destined to a executive managerial or specialized position within the U.S. company, although not necessarily in the same position as held previously. In addition, the employee must have been employed outside the U.S. with the international company continuously for one year within the three years preceding the application for admission into the United States.
OPENING AN OFFICE
An L-1 visa is also the appropriate visa classification for a qualified employee of an international company who is coming to the United States to establish a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary in the United States. When filing the petition, the international company will be required to show that physical premises for the new office and that within one year of the approval of the petition, the intended U.S. operation will support an executive or managerial position. In the case of a person with specialized knowledge, the petitioner will be required to show that it has the financial ability to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the United States. A petition for a qualified employee of a new office will be approved for a period not to exceed one year, after which the petitioner must demonstrate that it is doing business as described above in order for the petition and alien’s stay to be extended beyond one year.
INDIVIDUAL PETITION VERSES BLANKET PETITION
The employment must be approved in advance by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States on the basis of a petition, form I-129, filed by the employer with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the area where the employer is located. Companies seeking the classification for several employees as intra company transferees may file a blanket petition with USCIS. The blanket petition provision is meant to serve only relatively large, established companies having multi-layered structures and numerous related business entities. The blanket petition provision is available only to managers, executives and specialized knowledge professional that are destined to work in an established office. Any questions, which you may have concerning this process, should be addressed to the appropriate USCIS office in the United States.
There are additional fees assessed when an applicant applies for a visa under a blanket L petition.
The USCIS offer a Premium Processing Service that expedites the processing of a nonimmigrant visa petition. See our section on Premium Processing.
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE A PETITION HAS BEEN APPROVED BY USCIS?
Once an L petition has been approved in your name you need to apply for a visa before traveling to the United States. The Notice of Action, form I-797A or B, is not valid for travel unless accompanied by the appropriate visa.
SPOUSES, CHILDREN & PARTNERS
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay may apply for derivative L-2 visas. The application procedure is the same; the I-797A or B covers dependents. If the spouse and/or children apply for visas at a later date, a copy of the principal visa holders visa must be furnished with the application. Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas, or if qualified, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.
To partners and common-law spouses.
L-2 VERSUS F-1
The spouse and/or children of an L-2 visa holder may study on an L-2 visa. However, if they are qualified, they may apply for the F-1 visa. If you have school age children, you should refer to the regulations governing the issuance of F-1 visas.
WORKING ON AN L-2 VISA
Spouses must seek employment authorization before seeking work on derivative L-2 visas. For further information, please contact the USCIS on your arrival in the United States.
The pertinent regulations state in part as follows:
(l) Intracompany transferees—
214.2(l)(1) Admission of intracompany transferees—
214.2(l)(1)(i) General. Under section 101(a)(15)(L) of the Act, an alien who within the preceding three years has been employed abroad for one continuous year by a qualifying organization may be admitted temporarily to the United States to be employed by a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of that employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge. An alien transferred to the United States under this nonimmigrant classification is referred to as an intracompany transferee and the organization which seeks the classification of an alien as an intracompany transferee is referred to as the petitioner. The Service has responsibility for determining whether the alien is eligible for admission and whether the petitioner is a qualifying organization. These regulations set forth the standards applicable to these classifications. They also set forth procedures for admission of intracompany transferees and appeal of adverse decisions. Certain petitioners seeking the classification of aliens as intracompany transferees may file blanket petitions with the Service. Under the blanket petition process, the Service is responsible for determining whether the petitioner and its parent, branches, affiliates, or subsidiaries specified are qualifying organizations. The Department of State or, in certain cases, the Service is responsible for determining the classification of the alien.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(A) Intracompany transferee means an alien who, within three years preceding the time of his or her application for admission into the United States, has been employed abroad continuously for one year by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary thereof, and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to render his or her services to a branch of the same employer or a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary thereof in a capacity that is managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge. Periods spent in the United States in lawful status for a branch of the same employer or a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary thereof and brief trips to the United States for business or pleasure shall not be interruptive of the one year of continuous employment abroad but such periods shall not be counted towards fulfillment of that requirement.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B) Managerial capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B)(1) Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B)(2) 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;
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B)(3) Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) if another employee or other employees are directly supervised; if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B)(4) Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor's supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C) Executive capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C)(1) Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C)(2) Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C)(3) Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C)(4) Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(D) Specialized knowledge means special knowledge possessed by an individual 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.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(E) Specialized knowledge professional means an individual who has specialized knowledge as defined in paragraph (l)(1)(ii)(D) of this section and is a member of the professions as defined in section 101(a)(32) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(F) New office means an organization which has been doing business in the United States through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for less than one year.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G) Qualifying organization means a United States or foreign firm, corporation, or other legal entity which:
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G)(1) Meets exactly one of the qualifying relationships specified in the definitions of a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary specified in paragraph (l)(1)(ii) of this section;
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G)(2) Is or will be doing business (engaging in international trade is not required) as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for the duration of the alien's stay in the United States as an intracompany transferee; and
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(G)(3) Otherwise meets the requirements of section 101(a)(15)(L) of the Act.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(H) Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(I) Parent means a firm, corporation, or other legal entity which has subsidiaries.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(J) Branch means an operating division or office of the same organization housed in a different location.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(K) Subsidiary means a firm, corporation, or other legal entity of which a parent owns, directly or indirectly, more than half of the entity and controls the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, half of the entity and controls the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, 50 percent of a 50-50 joint venture and has equal control and veto power over the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, less than half of the entity, but in fact controls the entity.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(L) Affiliate means
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(L)(1) One of two subsidiaries both of which are owned and controlled by the same parent or individual, or
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(L)(2) One of two legal entities owned and controlled by the same group of individuals, each individual owning and controlling approximately the same share or proportion of each entity, or
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(L)(3) In the case of a partnership that is organized in the United States to provide accounting services along with managerial and/or consulting services and that markets its accounting services under an internationally recognized name under an agreement with a worldwide coordinating organization that is owned and controlled by the member accounting firms, a partnership (or similar organization) that is organized outside the United States to provide accounting services shall be considered to be an affiliate of the United States partnership if it markets its accounting services under the same internationally recognized name under the agreement with the worldwide coordinating organization of which the United States partnership is also a member.
214.2(l)(1)(ii)(M) Director means a Service Center director with delegated authority at 8 CFR 103.1.