USA Immigration Work Permits and Visas
Intra-Company Transfers to a US Office - L-1 Visa
Generally, the L-1 visa is designed for the transfer of certain employees between two or more related entities in the US and another country. It may also be suitable where a non-US company wants to establish a subsidiary or branch in the United States of America (New Office).
Which Companies Can Transfer Employees to the US?
The petitioning entity (either the US or the foreign company) must meet the definition under immigration rules of a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate. In addition, both the foreign and the US operations must be doing business for the entire time that the L-1 employee is working in the US.
Which Employees Can Be Transferred to the US?
Only three types of employees may be transferred to the US on an L-1 visa: Executives, Managers and Specialized Knowledge Employees. The employee to be transferred must have worked in one or more of these capacities for the foreign company for at least one year out of the last three, and must be going to the US to work for the US company as an Executive, Manager or Specialized Knowledge Employee.
How Long Can L-1 Employees Stay in the US?
Executives and Managers (L-1A) may remain in the US for up to seven years. Specialized Knowledge Employees (L-1B) may remain in the US for up to five years. Note that L-1 employees could potentially become US legal permanent residents (green card holders). However, for green card purposes there are marked procedural differences between the L-1A and the L-1B categories.
How to Obtain an L-1 Visa?
Each L-1 case must be well documented with supporting evidence proving that all legal requirements are met. The first step is to file a petition with the Citizenship and Immigration Services at one of the four regional Service Centers. The next step is normally to obtain an L-1 visa from the applicable US Consulate or Embassy. Dependents of the L-1 holder (spouses and children) may obtain L-2 visas. L-2 spouses may later apply for work authorization in the US.