Businesses that function both in the United States and in their home country gain the benefits of the best of both areas. The L-1 visa is open to international organizations with offices in the U.S., and who transfer employees to the U.S office for temporary periods of time. This visa is sometimes referred to as the ‘intra-company transferee’ visa.
To obtain an L-1 visa, you must be able to prove that you have worked for the non-U.S. company for at least one full year within the last three years as an executive, manager or employee with specialized knowledge. The L-1 visa enables the transfer of managers, executives and specialized knowledge personnel to a U.S. office, subsidiary or affiliated company. This visa comes in the following categories:
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S., under L-2 status. The L-2 spouse is allowed to work provided that s/he first obtains employment authorization from the USCIS. L-2 spouse as well as L-2 children can attend school or college. Servants may be eligible for a B-1 visa with work authorization.
The employer must file a petition with the USCIS Regional Service Center with jurisdiction over the location of the position. These documents should be photocopies of the originals. The L-1 petition can be premium processed which means that if an additional fee of $1000 is paid on top of the filing fee of $190 and the fraud prevention and detection fee of $500, the petition will be adjudicated within 15 days of being filed with the USCIS.
The USCIS may request additional documents prior to either approving or denying the case. If it is a premium processing case, the request for additional documents or information must come within the 15 days. You will then have 12 weeks to respond.
Once approved, the USCIS will forward the petition to the U.S. Consulate nearest your place of residence for review. If you are not in the U.S. when your petition is approved, you must get your visa stamped at the U.S. Consulate before being allowed to enter the U.S. Your employer will receive Form I-797, notice of approval. After receipt of the I-797, you must then file-in Form DS-160 at the Consulate.
If approved, your visa will be valid for 3 years. Blanket Petition: A blanket petition eases the process of getting the L-1 visa. If a company has been defined as a blanket petition entity by USCIS, the company can directly authorize L-1 visas to eligible employees.
To apply for an L-1 Visa, you must supply the following documents:
Your petition should show that both the U.S. and foreign-based company meet USCIS requirements for L-1 status. The U.S. entity should be a branch office, subsidiary or affiliate of the foreign enterprise, and both companies should be actively engaged in business.
The following documents may also be required:
You, the employee, should provide the following documents:
If you are coming to the U.S. to start a new office, you should also provide the following documents: