The L visa is available for multinational companies seeking to transfer high-level and essential employees from overseas to provide services in a similar capacity to a subsidiary, affiliate, branch or parent company in the United States. This individual employee is called an “intra-company transferee.” The intra-company transferee must have been working abroad continuously for one year by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the U.S. company within the three years preceding the time of his/her application for an L-1.
She/he must also be coming to the United States temporarily in order to render his/her services to a branch of the same employer, and in a managerial, executive capacity or one that involves “specialized knowledge.”Categories of the L visa include the L-1A (for an executive or manager) and the L-1B (for a person of specialized knowledge). For an expedited processing of an L visa, many large companies have a blanket L petition approval for their employees who will be entering the United States to work in one of these capacities. Individuals who work for a company, which has a blanket L petition approval, may apply for L visa stamps at a United States Consulate abroad, except for Canadian citizens, who do not need visa stamps, but can apply for L-1 admission directly at a United States port of entry on the Canadian border. If a company does not have a blanket petition, the United States employer must file for an L-1 visa status for executives, managers, or employees who have specialized knowledge of products, processes, or operating policies and procedures, with a US Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) regional service center. Upon approval, the individual may apply for an L-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate. Canadian citizens may file the petition directly at a port of entry since Canadians are not required to present an L visa stamp at the United States border. An L-1 visa may also be a good option for foreign nationals who are seeking to start a business in the U.S. The applicant must continue to be operating a business abroad. The beneficiary individual must also demonstrate one-year full-time employment abroad in the three years preceding the application with a parent, branch or affiliate of the U.S. company. The requirements for an L-1 classification include evidence that a premises has been secured and that the applicant’s position in the company abroad was executive or managerial.
The initial maximum period of an approved L-1 visa is three years. However, extensions may be granted for individuals with L-1A (executive/manager) status up to a maximum stay of seven years. Extensions for individuals with L-1B (specialized knowledge) status can be granted for a maximum stay of five years. Spouses of L-1’s may obtain work authorization.