L1 Visa Program for the U.S
L1 Visa– Overview
The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for the United States, allowing multinational companies to send senior-level employees to the U.S to conduct business activities in the country. In addition, this work visa allows internal staff members of a company to move from their current location to the U.S. The L1 visa also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States to establish a new branch.
Unlike the H1B visa, where an individual joins an American company, the L1 visa is issued to those employed in the US-based branch. As a result, the L1 visa holders are known as Intra-company transferees.
Types of L1 Visa
Depending upon the nature of the work, there are two types of L1 visa:
The L-1A visa is created for intracompany transferees who work in managerial or executive positions in a company located outside the United States. Executives under this visa can take important decisions without much supervision.
To qualify, you must:
- Have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately before your admission to the United States; and
- Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
The L-1B visa is for intracompany transferees who work in positions requiring specialized knowledge. To qualify, you must:
- Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately before your admission to the United States; and
- Be seeking to enter the United States to provide specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
LIA visa applicants can also include spouses and minor children in the application. The spouse can also work in the U.S. L-1 visa holders need not prove that they have no intention to permanently settle in the United States, unlike other low-skilled seasonal workers. The flexible nature of the visa makes it easier for employers to apply for permanent residence for the visa holder.
What are the Benefits of an L-1 visa?
Relatively low requirements- Many work visa pathways to the U.S for overseas workers have stringent requirements that are difficult to meet.
The L-1 Visa only requires you to be a manager, executive, or specialized employee in a multinational company to be eligible. This unlocks the door for many foreigners that are otherwise ineligible for other work visas.
No job offer required- The biggest challenge that many H1B visa holders face is finding an entity willing to sponsor you for the visa. The case is not the same with the L1 visa. If you meet the eligibility criteria and are employed with a U.S company, you will quickly get the visa.
There are no annual quotas- Unlike some other visa categories, there are no yearly limits on the number of visas available to certain countries.
Fast processing times- Average processing time is between 3-6 months. Premium Processing is also available by paying an additional fee of $2,500. With the premium processing, USCIS is required to respond with 15 business days.
Spouse and dependents can work- If you are an L-1 visa holder, you will be able to bring your spouse and children along with you through the L2 visa. Also, if they qualify for Employment Authorization Documents, they will be able to work in the U.S. as well.
Transition to Green Card- It is possible to transition to a Green Card through the L-1A visa category. The criteria for L-1A are very similar to the requirements for the EB-1C visa category for Multinational Managers or Executives, which makes it easier for L-1A visa holders to become permanent residents of the U.S.
How long is an L1 visa valid?
The ‘Reciprocity Schedule determines the initial validity of the visa.’ Each country has its reciprocity schedule for the L1 visa. Some have more prolonged than others. The reciprocity schedule determines the validity of the visa. Once this period is over, one can easily renew their visa for up to seven years for L1A and five years for an L1B visa.
Applicants wishing to establish a ‘New Office’ L1 visa will be issued for one year. It enables the immigration authorities to review the progress of the new establishment in the United States. If the progress is good, one can renew the visa for two years and up to five years or even seven for both visa pathways.
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