The L1 visa category applies to aliens who work for a company
with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the U.S. These
workers come to the U.S. as intracompany transferees who are
coming temporarily to perform services either: in a managerial or
executive capacity L-1A or which entail specialized knowledge
L-1B for a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same
employer that employed the professional abroad.
The employee must have been employed abroad for the
corporation, firm, or other legal entity (or an affiliate or subsidiary
thereof) on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out
of the last three-year period to qualify. There is currently no
annual cap on L-1 visas.
NOTE: The employer is not required to obtain a labor
certification prior to petitioning in this category. Compensation
level is not prescribed, but U.S. income must be sufficient to
prevent the alien from becoming a public charge.
Dependents (i.e. spouses and unmarried children under 21 years
of age) of L-1 workers are entitled to L-2 status with the same
restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.
S. while remaining in L-2 status, however, dependents may not be
employed under the L-2 classification.
Petition Document Requirements
A U.S. employer or foreign employer may file the I-129 petition,
but a foreign employer must have a legal business in the U.S. The
petition must be filed with:
- Evidence of the qualifying relationship between the U.S.
and the foreign employer which address ownership and
control, such as an annual report, copies of articles of
incorporation, financial statements, or stock certificates;
- A letter from the alien's foreign qualifying employer
detailing his or her dates of employment, job duties,
qualifications and salary and demonstrating that the alien
worked for the employer abroad for at least one continuous
year within the three-year period before the filing of the
petition in an executive or managerial capacity or in a
position involving specialized knowledge; and
- A detailed description of the proposed job duties and
qualifications and evidence the proposed employment is in
an executive or managerial capacity or in a position
involving specialized knowledge.
- If the alien is coming to the U.S. as a manager or executive
(L-1A) to open or to be employed in a new office, also file
the petition with evidence that:
(a) Sufficient premises to house the new office have
(b) The beneficiary has, or upon establishment will
have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign
employer and the qualifying position; and
(c) The intended U.S. operation will be able to
support the executive or managerial position within
one year of the approval of the petition.
Extending an Individual L1 Petition
A petitioner may apply for an extension of an individual L-1
petition using Form I-129. Supporting documentation is not
required, except in those cases involving new offices or when
Filing the I-129 Petition:
USCIS Form I-129 consists of a basic petition and different
supplements that apply to the various visa categories. In order to
petition for a temporary worker, the prospective employer or
agent must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and
the appropriate supplement with the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) accompanied by the required
payment, and initial evidence or documentation.
Once the petition is approved, the employer or agent is sent a
Notice of Approval, Form I-797. Approval of a petition does not
guarantee visa issuance to an applicant. Applicants must also
establish that they are admissible to the U.S. under provisions of
the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Applying for the Visa:
If the prospective worker (beneficiary) is outside of the country,
he must apply for a visa. After the USCIS has approved the I-129
and sent notice to the consulate in the beneficiary’s country, the
beneficiary must file a visa application with the consulate. Some
aliens may be visa exempt. In those cases, the I-129 approval
notice is sent to the port of entry (POE) where the beneficiary
intends to apply for admission. For specific procedures on Visa
Application Procedures, Required Documentation and Visa
Ineligibility Waiver, please visit Visa Services at the Department of
If the beneficiary is already in the U.S. and is changing from one
nonimmigrant status to another, a visa is not required. However, a
visa may be required if the beneficiary subsequently leaves the U.
S. and wishes to re-enter.
Entry into the U.S.
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry
into the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) has authority to deny admission at the port of entry to any
applicant who is inadmissible under INA, even if the applicant has
a visa. Also, the CBP, not the consular officer, determines the
period for which the bearer of a temporary work visa is authorized
to remain in the United States. At the port of entry, CBP officials
issue Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the
length of stay permitted. The decision to grant or deny a request
for extension of stay, however, is made solely by the USCIS.
When to File:
Petitions should be filed as soon as possible, but no more than 6
months before the proposed employment will begin or the
extension of stay is required. If the petition is not submitted at
least 45 days before the employment will begin, petition
processing and subsequent visa issuance may not be completed
before the alien's services are required or previous employment
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L1 Work Visa: Intracompany Transfers