The L-1 visa is for temporary intra-company transferees who are either working in executive or managerial positions, or in a position that requires specialised knowledge. Since the L-1 visa only allows temporary residence, it is a ‘non-immigrant’ classification.
This work visa allows U.S. employers to transfer a qualified employee from an affiliated foreign-based office to the U.S office.
It can also permit a foreign company that does not have an affiliated U.S. office to send a qualified employee to the United States, with the intention of establishing a new office in the U.S. These are known as ‘new office’ petitions.
The L-1 visa can also be applicable for Blanket Petitions, which allows some organisations to transfer multiple eligible employees to their U.S. office before filing individual L-1 applications for each employee.
Types of L-1 visas
There are two classifications under the L-1 visa transfer category:
The L-1A visa classification is for employees working in executive or managerial capacity.
The L-1B visa classification is for employees who possess specialised knowledge relevant to the business’ interests.
Executive capacity implies that the employee is capable of making broad decisions without much supervision.
Managerial capacity implies that the employee is capable of supervising other professionals and managing a department/subdivision/function/component of the organisation, or the organisation at large. It could also imply that the employee can manage an essential function at a high scale, without direct supervision.
Specialised knowledge implies that the employee possesses special knowledge regarding the product, service, equipment, management, research, techniques or other business interests – and the application of such knowledge in international markets. It could also imply advanced expertise or knowledge regarding organisational procedures and policies.
L-1 Visa Validity
The L-1 visa duration varies depending on the type and purpose of intra-company transfer.
Employees transferred from a foreign office to an existing affiliated U.S. office are granted the visa for an initial period of three years.
Employees transferred from a foreign company to help establish a new office in the U.S. are granted the visa for an initial period of one year.
The duration of stay can be extended by applying for additional two-year increments. The L-1A visa classification can remain valid until the employee completes seven years in the U.S., while the L-1B visa classification can remain valid until the employee completes five years in the U.S.
Benefits of the L-1 Visa
An array of benefits can be availed by L-1 visa holders:
Eligibility Requirements for the L-1 Visa
Employees/transferees and employers must fulfil the L-1 visa eligibility requirements for the relevant classification.
The transferee must:
The employer must:
‘New Office’ petitioners under the L-1A visa classification must showcase that:
‘New Office’ petitioners under the L-1B visa classification must showcase that:
Applicants for Blanket Petitions have to fulfil a different set of L-1 visa requirements:
Under the Form I-129 application, certain L-1 visa documents must be provided as initial evidence:
Note: There is a distinct set of documents required for new office petitions under L-1A and L-1B visa classifications.
L-1 Visa Application Process
To apply for the L-1 visa for USA from India, aspirants can follow the below-mentioned L-1 visa process.
Step 1: The employer must complete Form I-129 (Petition for Non-immigrant Worker) as well as related supplements, and prepare the supporting documents. These, along with duplicate copies of the form and documents, and the Form I-129 filing fee ($460), must be submitted to the Direct Filing Address.
Step 2: Once the application is processed, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send a receipt notice to the employer, and a notice for the date of the biometrics appointment. An additional L-1 visa cost of biometrics ($85) may apply.
Step 3: The USCIS will send the employer a notice containing the final decision on the visa application.
L-1 Visa Processing Time
The usual processing time for Form I-129 under the L-1 intra-company transfer visa is 6 months. However, processing times may vary.