- L1 Visa Requirements for Employees
- L1 Visa Requirements for Employers
- L-1A Visa Subcategory Eligibility
- L-1B Visa Subcategory Eligibility
- How to apply for the L1 Visa
- How long does the visa last?
- L1 Visa Processing Time
- Bringing Dependents on the L1 Visa
- L1 Visa Fees
- How can your immigration lawyers help me?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the L1 Visa?
The L1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa intended to facilitate the temporary transfer of foreign workers to US offices of the company they work for. L1 Visas are available to employees of international companies that have branches both abroad and in the US.
The L1 Visa also enables foreign companies that do not yet have an office in the US to send an executive or a manager to the US so that they can establish one.
There are two types of the L1 Visa:
- L-1A Visa – intended for executive managers
- L-1B Visa – intended for workers with specialised knowledge.
To be eligible for the visa, employees have to have been working for the company for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding their planned admission to the US.
The visa allows employees to come to the US for a certain period of time and work for the same employer as in their home country but in a US office. If you would like to come to the US to work for a new employer, you should consider applying for one of employment-based green cards.
Which employees are eligible for the L1 Visa?
As an employee, to be eligible for the L1 Visa you have to meet the following requirements:
- You have been working for the company for at least one year within the past three years
- You have specialised knowledge of how the company operates and what products it offers
- Your company has agreed to be a sponsor for your application
- You are actively working with your employer both in the US and in your home country
- You are a full-time employee.
Moreover, the L1 Visa is only available to individuals who hold executive or managerial roles within their companies.
Executive capacity means that an employee is entitled to make decisions without much supervision. Managerial capacity, on the other hand, means that an employee can control the work of other employees and manage some aspects of running the company or its department.
How can employers qualify for the L1 Visa?
To be able to send their employers to the US on the L1 Visa, an employer has to:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. That includes branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates
- Have to be currently doing business in the US and in at least one other country
- Have to be able to maintain business activities in the US and abroad for the duration of the employee’s stay in the US.
Moreover, if an employer seeks to send an employee to the US with the purpose of establishing a new office, they have to be able to prove that:
- They have secured physical premises in the US for the new office
- The employee they intend to send to the US has been employed as an executive or manager for at least one continuous year in the three years preceding the L1 Visa application
- After its established, the US office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the L1 Visa.
Who is eligible for the L-1A Visa?
If you are an executive or manager, you should apply for the L-1A Visa. To be eligible for it, you have to meet the following criteria:
- The US company that submits the petition on your behalf has a professional relationship with the foreign business that you work for in your home country
- You currently hold a managerial or executive position and it will not change after you are transferred
- You have been working for a foreign company for at least one of the three years preceding your visa application.
The L-1A visa is granted for an initial period of three years but it can be extended for up to 7 years.
Who is eligible for the L-1B Visa?
The L-1B Visa is intended for employees who have extensive knowledge of the company’s products, services, and operations. To be eligible for the L-1B visa, they need to be able to prove that their knowledge is not readily available in the US.
They also have to show that they have specialised knowledge of:
- Products and services that the company offers
- The role and position of the company in international markets
- Procedures that regulate the company’s activities.
The L-1A visa is granted for an initial period of three years but it can be extended to a maximum of five years.
How to apply for the L1 Visa?
The application process for the L1 Visa starts with the employer filing Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. The petition has to be submitted at least 45 days and no more than 6 months before the employee’s planned admission into the US.
The following documents have to be submitted with the petition:
- Evidence that the employee has been working for one of the company’s foreign offices for at least one year
- Evidence that during one year, the employee has been holding an executive or managerial role
- Evidence that after arrival in the US the employee will occupy an executive or managerial position
- A detailed description of what the employee’s duties will be
- Description of the employee’s qualifications
- Proof that the employer has to demonstrate that they will be able to pay the foreign employee’s wages.
After Form I-129 is approved, the employee can continue the application by electronically submitting Form DS-160. After completing it, the employee has to keep the confirmation receipt as it will be needed during the visa interview.
The next step is to schedule and later attend the interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in the employee’s home country. Typically, the applicant will receive the decision right after the visa interview is finished.
How long is the L1 Visa valid for?
How long you will be able to stay in the US on the L1 Visa varies depending on the purpose of your trip.
If you are coming to the US to establish a new office for your company, your L1 Visa will initially be valid for a maximum of 1 year.
If you are coming as an executive or manager to work for an existing US-based branch of your company, you will be able to stay in the US for the initial period of 3 years.
Your initial visa validity will be the same if you are coming to the US as an employee with specialised knowledge.
In all of these instances, it may be possible to submit an application to extend your L1 Visa.
For L-1A employees, extensions can be granted in increments of additional 2 years, with a maximum limit of 7 years.
For L-1B employees, the maximum stay after visa extensions is 5 years.
What is the processing time for the L1 Visa?
Most L1 Visa applications are processed within six months. Nevertheless, the waiting time can be longer if the immigration office has a lot of applications to process. Similarly, if there are any mistakes in your application or you fail to include some of the necessary documentation, your L1 Visa might be delayed.
If you need to know the outcome of your application sooner than after six months, you can file an I-907, Request for Premium Service. If your application for it is successful, your application will be processed within 15 calendar days. Premium processing of the L1 Visa is not cheap as the I-907 filing fee is $1,440.
Can I bring my dependents to the US on the L1 Visa?
If your application for the L1 Visa is successful, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 might be able to come to the US with you. To be able to join you, they have to apply for an L2 Visa. It is a non-immigrant permit intended for dependents of L1 Visa holders.
Individuals coming to the US on the L2 Visa can seek employment in the US provided that they apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Once they receive it, they will be issued a Social Security Number and they will be able to apply for part-time and full-time jobs in any field.
The L2 Visa of your dependents will be valid for as long as your L1 Visa lasts. Depending on their circumstances, they might also be able to switch to a different US visa such as the F1 Student Visa, or the H1B Visa.
What is the cost of the L1 Visa?
Processing fees of the L1 Visa might differ depending on your home country and its relationship with the US. Nevertheless, some of the expenses you will have to pay include:
- $460 for the filing of Form I-129
- £500 fee for fraud prevention and detection
- $190 for the filing of Form DS-160.
On top of that, you might have to pay $1,440 for Premium Processing if your application is urgent.
You might also have to pay an immigration attorney fee for receiving assistance with your application.
While hiring an immigration lawyer is optional, it is highly recommended. Getting expert advice from specialists in the field can help you avoid making mistakes in your application, thus maximising the chances of success.
How can IAS lawyers help?
Only certain categories of employees are eligible for the L1 Visa. If you are not sure whether you meet the eligibility criteria, our lawyers can help you determine that. They can also advise you on how to proceed with your visa application and can answer any questions you might have.
Applying for the L1 Visa can be a complex process and you have to be very careful when filing the forms and gathering the required documents. Our lawyers are experts in helping employers petition and employees go through all the other steps of the application process.
If you hire one of our experienced lawyers, you will be able to relax, knowing that your application is complete and correctly submitted.
Our team of highly qualified immigration lawyers has already helped many companies and their employees get their L1 Visa and prepare for the journey to the US.
Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help.
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L-1A and L-1B visa holders are usually granted permission to stay in the US for the initial period of three years. There is a possibility to extend their stay for up to seven and five years respectively. You can request extensions after the initial three-year-long stay in the US without having to leave the country. Nevertheless, if you reach the maximum duration of the L1 Visa and you want to stay in the US longer, you will have to leave the US for at least one year and then reapply for a new visa.
Unfortunately, just like with any other US visa, there is no guarantee that your application will be approved. The common reason for the L1 visa being rejected is not being able to prove that the employee has specialised knowledge that American workers do not have.
If your L1 Visa application is rejected, you can appeal USCIS’ decision. Seek the assistance of one of our immigration lawyers and they will explain to you in detail how to submit the appeal and what to include in it.
If you want to apply for the L1 Visa, you have to be prepared to pay the following fees:
- $460 for Form I-129
- £500 for fraud prevention and detection
- $190 for Form DS-160.
That means that the overall cost of the L1 Visa is at least $1150. Depending on where you live, sometimes you might be required to pay additional fees.
Yes, your dependents, which refers to your spouse and unmarried children younger than 21, can come to the US under the L2 Visa. After they receive their L2 Visa, they will be able to stay in the US for as long as your L1 visa is valid. If they want to work while being there, they have to apply for the Employment Authorization Document.