Are you an executive or an employee who wishes get L1 Visa to further a temporary work in the United States of America? This article has provided a solution to your problem. The L1 visa is a temporary work and residence permit for the United States.
This work visa category allows internal staff transfers within a company group from the current foreign location to a U.S. location. With the L1 visa, you have total freedom of movement and existence in the United States as you go about your daily work activity. Read on through this article to find an easy way of acquiring yours.
In this article
- Meaning of the L1 visa
- Requirements for L1 Visa
- Other requirements
- Qualifications for the L1 Visa
- Types of L1 Visa
- Qualifications to Obtain the L1A Visa
- Managers Qualifications to Obtain the L1A Visa
- Executive Qualifications to Obtain the L1A Visa
- Qualifications to Obtain the L-1B Visa
- 7 Easy Steps to Apply for the L1 Visa
- #1. Get a transfer offer
- #2. File Form I-129
- #3. File Form DS-160
- #4. Pay the L1 visa application fee
- #5. Schedule your L1 visa interview
- #6. Submit your L1 visa documents
- #7. Attend your interview
- Required Documents for L1 Visa
- L1 Visa Processing Time
- L1 Visa Validity Duration
Meaning of the L1 visa
The L-1 visa is a temporary work and residence permit for the United States. This work visa category allows internal staff transfers within a company group from the current foreign location to a U.S. location. Applicants often apply for an L-1 Intracompany Transferee visa as part of a standard international assignment.
However, applicants may apply for this visa, for example, if they wish to participate in a long-term project or installation assignment at a U.S. site or U.S. customer facility. An L-1 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States for work in L-1 status. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time, from three months to five years, based on a reciprocity schedule. With extensions, the maximum stay is seven years. The L-1 visa is available for employers wishing to transfer employees from a foreign branch, subsidiary, affiliate, parent, or related corporate entity to work at a related U.S. Entity.
Requirements for L1 Visa
The L1 visa cannot be issued to just anybody. There are some eligibility requirements considered before you can acquire the L1 visa. These conditions include:
- The L1 visa is company-based, i.e. the U.S. company officially applies to future employees. The proof of the existence of a U.S. location within a group of companies is, therefore, an indispensable prerequisite. The American company must already have been active on the market for at least one year.
- U.S. locations that have been operational for less than one year may qualify as L-1 applicants under separate provisions (“L-1 New Office”). With this visa, the foreign individual can only work for the U.S. company that applied. The only exception is so-called “off-site employment”, which allows employees to work for clients under certain conditions.
- Since L1 visas refer to intracompany transfers of employees, proof must be provided that there is a qualifying connection between the foreign location where the employees are currently employed and the U.S. location (as the “receiving” company unit) so that the transfer of the employees can take place.
- Employees who are to receive the L-1 visa must also have been employed (continuously) for at least 12 months within the last three years for a location of the group of companies (outside the United States). This must have been a regular employment relationship. Freelancers or consultants, for example, do not qualify for this category. The legislation is based on the assumption that the offered position in the United States is also a regular employment relationship (regular employment).
- During the employment phase of at least one year in the foreign company, employees must have worked as a manager, executive, or specialist and also hold a position at the future US location. The US authorities distinguish between the L-1A visa for managers/executives and the L1B visa for specialists. L-1B applications in particular are strictly reviewed by the relevant authorities.
- Employees who receive an L-1 visa can either continue to be paid by the foreign company or by the US location. A US employment contract or a US assignment contract is not mandatory but is possible. Foreign employment contracts may also continue for the work assignment.
Qualifications for the L1 Visa
If you have attained all the requirements, you will still need to acquire or have acquired the following qualifications to ensure your L-1 visa comes smoothly. To acquire the qualifications, you must
- Be employed as either a senior manager or an executive and have worked for the non-US subsidiary, parent, affiliate, or branch office of the US company for at least 12 months out of the three years immediately preceding the application
- Have employment in another country that is not the US for at least one year in the past three years.
- Get a specialized knowledge, or have a managerial or executive position.
- Have a transfer offer to a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position in a US company.
- Be registered as a full-time employee; however, the applicant can work part-time in the US and use the rest of the time to work in their home.
- The company where the applicant works must have a subsidiary, branch, affiliate, or parent company in the US.
The Intra Company Transferee visa has no cap, therefore, it can be given to everyone who is eligible and goes through the application process. In addition, all foreign nationals are eligible for this type of visa as long as they fulfill the above requirements.
Types of L1 Visa
L1 Visa is in two types which are:
- L-1-A visa: Is for managers and executives, who are either transferring to a US office or coming into the US to set up a US office.
- L-1-B visa: Is for specialized employees, who have essential specialist skills or knowledge
Qualifications to Obtain the L1A Visa
To qualify for an L1A visa, you must be employed as either a senior manager or an executive. You should have worked for the non-US subsidiary, parent, affiliate, or branch office of the US company for at least 12 months out of the three years immediately preceding the application.
Managers Qualifications to Obtain the L1A Visa
Moreover for a manager to obtain L1 Visa, he should attain the following qualifications below. A manager must perform the following duties:
- Has the authority to hire and fire employees accordingly if there is no other supervisor of that function. If there is a human resource supervisor, the manager has the authority to recommend people for hiring or for firing.
- Is in charge of the whole company or a division of it.
- Has to control over the supervisors and lower-level employees of the organization or the division that the manager heads.
- A supervisor who sees day-to-day operations and has another supervisor to whom he or she reports, cannot state that they are a manager. This person would be considered as staff of the company since they have no decision-making power and must ask for approval from their superior.
- Managers must have a certain degree of control and power over the company and its decisions to be able to qualify for an L1A visa for transferring to the US. An example of a manager could be the Head of the Marketing Department or the Head of Operations of a company.
Executive Qualifications to Obtain the L1A Visa
As for an executive, these duties fall under that job position:
- Is supervised only by stakeholders or a board of directors and no others.
- Makes policy rules and regulations for the company.
- Has the ultimate decision making power regarding the company, besides the stakeholders and the board of directors.
- If the person must report and is supervised directly by another person, with the exception of stakeholders and the board of directors, then they do not meet the criteria of being an executive.
- An executive must be monitored to a very low degree. An example of an executive is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company.
Note that the Executive and manager are the most eligible persons that can acquire the L-1A visa.
Qualifications to Obtain the L-1B Visa
The L-1B visa is directed toward those individuals who have specialized knowledge within a company.
Specialized knowledge professionals are those who are key employees within a company. They possess extraordinary and inimitable knowledge of the company’s products or services. This knowledge is difficult to transfer to another person and would take time as well as resources. The person with the specialized knowledge has gained this knowledge through years of experience within the company and so without them, the company’s products or services would not be of the same quality.
The L-1B visa is thus given to people whose company can prove that they are indispensable to company functions.
7 Easy Steps to Apply for the L1 Visa
You are going to follow these steps to apply for L-1 visa. They are:
- Get a transfer offer.
- File Form I-129.
- Then file Form DS-160.
- Pay the L1 visa application fee.
- Schedule your L1 visa interview.
- Submit your L1 visa documents.
- Attend your interview
#1. Get a transfer offer
This is the obvious logical prerequisite. Your employer who has a branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or parent company in the US, must give you an intra company transfer offer in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge position. Then you can begin your application.
#2. File Form I-129
There are two ways to go about filing this form:
- Individual Petitions: The employer must file a petition to the US for the employee to transfer to the country. The individual petition ensures that one employee applies for the L1 visa. This includes filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and the additional L Supplement to the form to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition must be approved by USCIS for the employee to start their application at the US Embassy. When the petition is approved, the employer will get Form I-797.
- L1 Blanket Petitions: The blanket petition has been created to enable large companies to get approval from USCIS and transfer many employees on L1 visas to the US.
To do this, they must fulfill the following requirements:
- The organization must be in the commercial trade or service business.
- Organization must have an office in the US for one or more years.
- The organization in the foreign country and its affiliates in the US must have obtained 10 L1 approvals in the past 12 months.
- Organization in the foreign country and the affiliates in the US must have combined annual sales of at least $25 million or have at least 1,000 employees in the US.
- The employer files a Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on L1 Blanket Petition to USCIS. After it is approved, the employer gets Form I-797, which all employees who will transfer will use in their applications.
Blanket petition is valid for 3 years and can be extended as many times as the employer needs. However, if the petition expires, then the employer cannot file a new blanket petition for another 3 years but is allowed to file individual petitions.
Besides these two differences in the application process, all other steps remain the same for all L1 visa applicants, whether they have an individual or blanket petition.
#3. File Form DS-160
Form DS-160 is required for most visa applications, including the L1 visa. The form is found online and requires applicants to submit the necessary information about their intent to go to the US, their purpose, and other details that will help the US Embassy make a decision. After you have submitted the DS-160, you will get a confirmation page and number, which you need to keep for later on.
#4. Pay the L1 visa application fee
The application fee for the L1 visa is $190. You must pay this fee for your application to be processed further. Besides this, you might be required to pay additional fees based on your home country or reciprocity measures with the US. Nevertheless, after you pay all fees, get the receipts which you will attach to your documents.
#5. Schedule your L1 visa interview
To get the L1 visa, you must conduct an interview with the officials of the US Embassy that you are applying from. If you are over 13 and under 79 years old, you must schedule an interview. Try to do this as soon as possible, since the Embassies are busy and it might take a while for them to get to your turn. When you schedule your interview, you will get a visa interview appointment letter.
#6. Submit your L1 visa documents
You must have a file with the above-mentioned documents to submit for your application to be considered.
#7. Attend your interview
Your interview is an integral part of your application. You will be interviewed by an official from the US Embassy you applied to. The official will try to gauge your intentions for traveling to the US and wants you to prove that your transfer is true and that you will be working in the US. If your interview goes well, your visa will be processed and you can go and get your passport stamped
Required Documents for L1 Visa
To apply for an L1 Visa, you must submit the following documents:
- A valid passport for an additional 6 months after your visa ends.
- Photograph meeting the US visa Photograph Requirements
- The DS-160 confirmation page and code.
The receipts that you have paid all L1 visa fees.
- The L1 visa interview appointment letter. For individual petitions:
- Form I-129 and one copy.
- The Form I-797.
For blanket petitions:
- Form I-129S and two copies.
- Three copies of Form I-797.
- Letter from employer confirming your transfer and your job description.
- Proof that you have worked with the employer for at least 1 year in the past 3 years.
- Letters from previous employers and contact information for your supervisors.
- Contact information from 2 coworkers from your current and previous job positions.
- Photographs of the inside and outside of your place of work.
- Your CV or resume.
L1 Visa Processing Time
Generally, the average L1 visa application time can be between six months to a year. This is depending on the consulate or embassy the application is filed at and the quality and circumstances of the application. L1 Visa processing time varies depending on the USCIS service center and the country from where the applicant applies. Typically, the average processing time for the I-129 petition is around six months. Consulate processing varies based on the home country but can be expected to take up to six months or longer.
There is usually no difference in the processing times between the L1A and L1B classifications.
L1 Visa Validity Duration
When your employer files Form I-129, they also determine the length of the contract. When your visa is approved, that is the length of time you will be allowed to work in the US. That time is also specified on your Form I-94 that you will receive upon entry to the US.
When this period is close to expiration, your employer can file for an extension. If the extension is approved, you will be able to stay in the US for longer.
There is however a maximum duration of time that you can stay in the US on an L1 visa. This depends on the type of L1 visa that you have. If you have an L1A visa, you are allowed to work in the US for a maximum of 7 years, while with an L1B visa, you can stay up to 5 years. When your maximum time is up, you can explore other options outside extension, which can also lead to a permanent stay in the US.
The L-1B is initially valid for three years unless the US office has been in operation for less than one year, in which case the initial visa validity is one year. The L-1B can be renewed in two-year increments up to a maximum of five years.
Can I bring my family members with the L-1 Visa?
If you are in the U.S. on L-1 status, 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
How long can I stay on an L-1 Visa
The L-1A visa has an initial period of stay of three years. Individuals can apply for renewals and may receive two extensions granted in two-year increments. This means individuals on an L-1A visa can remain in the U.S. for a total of seven years
Is getting an L-1 Visa difficult?
However, despite all of these benefits, the L-1 is not the easiest work visa to obtain. This is because the USCIS is becoming stricter with who qualifies as a manager, executive, or employee with specialized knowledge. The L-1A category is for managers and executives.
How much does L-1 Visa cost?
To apply for your L1 visa, you are required to File a Form DS-160 with the Department of State. The filing fee for a DS-160 for an L1 visa is $190 per applicant.
How many L1 visas can you have?
There are no limits to how many L-1 visas are approved each year. This means that your petition will not be rejected because there are no more available visas.
Can an L1B spouse work?
The spouse of the holder of an L-1 visa may typically work. However, the spouse must first apply for work authorization. Application for Employment Authorization can be filed via Form I-765. If the work authorization is granted, the spouse does not typically face any restrictions on his or her place of employment
Which visa is better: L1A or L1B?
If you’re a manager, executive, or business owner, an L1A visa can grant you a stay for as long as 7 years. If you’re an employee with specialized skills and knowledge, and L1B visa grants you a stay for as long as 5 years
What is the rejection rate of an L1B visa?
L1B visa denials rise in Trump’s first year as US President, the rejection rate rose to 26.9% in FY 2017, rising to 28% in FY 2018, surging to 34.4% in FY 2019 before falling slightly to 33% in 2020, according to the NFAP analysis
Can I convert L1B to L1A?
Yes, you can. To apply for a change of status from L1B to L1A, your employer must petition your case to USCIS before your current L1B visa expires. You must prove to USCIS that you upgraded to a managerial or executive role in your company
How many L1 visas can you have?
On the other hand, there are no limits to how many L-1 visas are approved each year. This means that your petition will not be rejected because there are no more available visas
Can I apply for a green card on L1B?
The L1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa, so it is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card. To go from an L1B visa to a green card, you will have to switch to an immigrant visa classification, which we will discuss below.
Have you now see that application for L1 Visa is not difficult the way you think. Therefore, you can follow our guide to apply for yours. Before you go, do check out American Student Visa Guide if you’re hoping to come to USA for Bachelors, Masters or PhD.