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L-1, Intracompany Transferees

Intracompany Transferees (Executives, Managers, and Specialized Knowledge Employees) - L-1A and L-1B

Intracompany transferees are executives, managers, and employees in positions requiring specialized knowledge. Managers include not only those in supervisory positions but also those who manage an essential function of the business. For an employee to have specialized knowledge, he or she must possess special knowledge of the U.S. company'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 company's processes and procedures.

Executives and managers may, with extensions, stay in L-1A status for up to seven years. Employees with specialized knowledge may, with extensions, stay in L-1B status for up to five years. Initial classification of both L-1A and L-1B may be granted for up to three years, except that an individual who is going to open a new office in the United States may only be granted L-1A or L-1B classification for one year. The limitation on how long an individual may stay in L-1A or L-1B status does not apply to an individual who does not reside continually in the U.S. and whose employment in the U.S. is seasonal, intermittent, or consists of an aggregate of six months or less per year. In addition, the limitation does not apply to an individual who resides abroad and regularly commutes to the U.S. to engage in part-time employment.

There are five requirements for an L-1 visa:

  1. The applicant has been employed abroad for one continuous year in the last three years for a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the U.S. employer.
  2. The foreign firm and the U.S. firm must have a "qualifying relationship". The foreign firm and the U.S. firm must have common majority ownership, or, where there is less than majority ownership, common control by the same person(s) or entity(ies).
  3. The overseas parent or affiliate company must be actively engaged in business abroad throughout the period of the L-1 classification. In addition, such parent-subsidiary or affiliate (group) status must continue throughout the period of the L-1 classification.
  4. The applicant must be going to the U.S. as a manager, executive or specialized knowledge employee. The terms "executive" and "manager" for the purpose of L-1A refers to: executive - one who directs the management of the company or a major part or function of the organization; manager - one who manages the organization, a department, or a function of the organization. The term "specialized knowledge" for the purpose of L-1B refers to employees with a special knowledge of the company'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 company's processes and procedures.
  5. The applicant must intend to leave the United States when his/her stay is over, but is not required to prove that he/she has a home abroad which he/she does not intend to abandon. In addition, the applicant is not precluded from applying for permanent residence while in L-1 status.

What exactly is an Executive position?
Requires an assignment within an organization in which the executive directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization; establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component or function; exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization. An offer of employment is required, and the petition must be filed by the U.S. employer.

What exactly is a Managerial position?
Requires a job in which the employee primarily manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization; 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; has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those actions as well as other personnel decisions; and exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations or a function of the company. An offer of employment is required, and the petition must be filed by the U.S. employer.

HOW TO APPLY FOR AN L-1 VISA

The Petition

For an Individual
The process for obtaining an L-1 visa is split into two stages. The first stage is known as the petition, which requires the submission of Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, together with appropriate supporting documentation.

The governmental fees for an L-1A or L-1B petition include $325 for Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and $500 for the Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee, which must be paid by a petitioner seeking a beneficiary's initial grant of L nonimmigrant classification or a petitioner seeking to change a beneficiary's employer within the L classification. Note that governmental fees can be changed at short notice. The petition is filed with either the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") California Service Center or the USCIS Vermont Service Center, depending on the location of the employment. As of November 30, 2008, the normal processing time for an L-1 petition is approximately two months. However, should a petitioner be willing to pay an additional fee of $1,225, Premium Processing Service may be requested. Under the Premium Processing Service, the USCIS guarantees that it will issue either an approval notice, a notice of intent to deny, or a request for evidence, or it will open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation, within 15 calendar days from the date it receives the petition. If the petition is not processed within 15 calendar days, the USCIS will refund the $1,225 fee and continue to process the request as part of the Premium Processing Service.

For Multiple Personnel
The blanket L-1 petition offers a convenient and cost-effective way of transferring to the U.S. multiple executives, managers, or professionals with specialized knowledge. Individual L-1 petitions can be avoided with the filing of a blanket L-1 petition, which saves time and money. There are a number of requirements for blanket L-1 petitions. First, each entity named in the petition must be engaged in commercial trade or services. Thus, nonprofit organizations cannot file a blanket L-1 petition. Second, the petitioner must have an office in the U.S. which has been doing business for at least one year. Third, the petitioner must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates. Finally, the petitioner, together with the other named qualifying organizations, must satisfy one of the following three criteria: (a) have received approvals for at least ten L-1 executives, managers or specialized knowledge professionals during the 12 months immediately proceeding the filing of the blanket L-1 petition; (b) have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or (c) have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.

The Visa Application
All beneficiaries of approved L-1 petitions who are between the ages of 14 and 79 must attend a personal visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, apart from persons who are already in the U.S. in valid L-1 or other non-immigrant status. Persons who are in the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program or are out of status must apply for a visa.

Once the petition has been approved, the second stage of the process involves the following:

  1. A DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, which must be completed and submitted online. A passport-style photograph must also be scanned and uploaded when completing the DS-160.
  2. A valid passport. There should be at least six months of unexpired validity and at least one blank page to insert the machine-readable visa.
  3. The I-797 Approval Notice, copy "A "or "B". The original is preferred, and certain posts will only accept the original Approval Notice.
  4. Copy of the L petition, which was filed with the USCIS California Service Center or the USCIS Vermont Service Center.
  5. Payment of the visa issuance fee, when required. Please contact Ferman Law which can advise as to which nationalities must pay a visa issuance fee and the fee amount.

The spouse of an L-1A or L-1B intracompany transferee is eligible to apply for employment authorization in the United States. The Employment Authorization Document, which is issued, will allow the spouse to work anywhere in the U.S.

How We Can Help You:
At Ferman Law, we review with our clients the feasibility of the petition and the documentation needed. We will prepare the petition for you and file it with the USCIS. After the petition is approved, we will prepare visa applications for you and your dependents. We will schedule your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy and prepare you for the interview.

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