L-1 visas allow for intra-country transfers of employees of international companies who want to do business in the United States. Employees may be eligible for a U.S. visa even if the business has not yet established an office in the country.
It is crucial to fulfill the requirements and establish eligibility when applying for a visa, or the application could be denied. At this time, denial rates are at an all-time high. Many companies find it helpful to work with an experienced L-1 visa lawyer when trying to move an international employee to the U.S. A knowledgeable immigration lawyer who understands the petition and application process could work to minimize delays and prevent problems.
The U.S. government issues two main types of L-1 visas to employees. Employees holding executive and managerial positions may qualify for L-1A visas, while professionals with specialized knowledge could be eligible for L-1B visas.
All L-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas, meaning they offer the ability to live and work in the U.S. for only a limited amount of time. L-1 visas may be renewed for up to seven years for an L-1A visa and five years for an L-1B visa.
For an employee to obtain either type of L-1 visa, the employer must satisfy specific criteria. The employer does not generally need to obtain approval from the U.S. Department of Labor. However, they must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign business, such as subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch.
In addition, the employer must do business as an employer in the U.S. and at least one other country. That means the employer must engage in the “regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services” in those countries. An L-1 visa lawyer could help ensure an employer adequately documents eligibility as a multinational business.
A business that intends to operate as an employer in the U.S. but is just establishing a presence in the country may qualify to transfer an employee under an L-1 visa, but the employers will need to satisfy additional requirements.
First, the employer must have obtained physical space to house the new office. If applying for an L-1A visa, the employee must have been employed in a managerial or executive capacity for one of the last three years, and the U.S. office must be expected to support an employee of that caliber within one year. If applying for an L-1B visa, the employer must demonstrate the financial capacity to begin operations and compensate the employee in the U.S.
If an employer seeks an L-1A visa to transfer an employee, that employee must be entering the U.S. to provide executive or managerial services. The U.S. government considers an executive to be someone trusted to make “decisions of wide latitude” on their own. Someone considered to work in a managerial capacity would be an employee who supervises professional employees and manages the organization or a department of a company. An employee may also qualify as a manager if the employee can manage an “essential function” without much supervision.
An L-1 visa lawyer could present evidence to show that employees qualify for treatment as L-1A or L-1B visa holders. For an L-1B visa, an employee must possess special or advance knowledge of the organization’s products, services, or processes.
Once qualifications are established, an employer will start the process of applying for an L-1 visa by filing a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129. An L-1 visa lawyer could assist with the petition process as well as the visa application process to follow.
If the employer is well-established in the U.S. and has obtained a significant number of L-1 approvals in the previous years, a lawyer could help the business file a petition to get blanket L certification to speed the process. To learn more about the process, call now.
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