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Orange County Transferee Visa Attorneys

Visa Application

The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows international companies to transfer key employees to the United States. The transferred employee is referred to as an intracompany transferee and is classified as either an L-1A or an L-1B nonimmigrant. L-1A classification is reserved for executives and managers, while L-1B classification is reserved for employees with specialized knowledge.

L-1 Category: Powerful Tool for Meeting the Staffing Needs of International Firms

As our economy becomes increasingly global in scope, U.S. firms are wise to consider the benefits of seeking talent both domestically and from abroad. Often, key employees abroad can offer difficult to find skills and knowledge to a U.S. office on a temporary basis. Executives and managers of an affiliate overseas may possess knowledge of the company’s products, processes, policies, and goals that can prove crucial to leading a U.S. office in its initial years of operations. Employees with specialized knowledge involving a company’s research, technologies, systems, and processes can help establish a U.S. corporation and train U.S. employees.

Because the L-1 visa category was designed to facilitate the transfer of valuable employees from offices abroad to the U.S., it may be used as an effective tool to help international companies achieve their staffing goals in critical areas, and it offers many advantages over other nonimmigrant categories. For example, unlike the H-1B category, the L-1 category is not subject to an annual cap and is available year round. In addition, unlike almost all other non-immigrant visa categories, spouses of L-1 nonimmigrants are allowed to request an employment authorization document which permits unrestricted employment. One other important feature of the L-1 category is that it allows for “dual intent.” Dual intent is a concept that means a foreign national may come to the United States with the intent to enter as a nonimmigrant and also with the intent to apply for permanent residence. For L-1 nonimmigrant applicants, dual intent means they will not be denied a visa because they may want to seek U.S. permanent residence. They also will not need to prove “country ties” to their native home before the U.S. Consulate will issue a visa.

Basic L-1 Requirements

Specific requirements for an L-1A visa include the following:

  • The intracompany transferee must be coming to the United States to perform in an executive or management capacity, or to perform in a position requiring specialized knowledge (as described below).
  • The petitioning U.S. employer must demonstrate that the intracompany transferee has been employed at its office abroad continuously as an executive, manager, or employee with specialized knowledge for at least one year out of the last three years. The U.S. employer must be a branch, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate office of the international company transferring the L-1 employee.
    If the employee is coming to open a new office in the U.S., the U.S. organization must show proof of the physical premises and that the business is active before the visa will be granted. Visa renewals for the new business will require proof that the business is growing, performing well, and continues to require the services of the L-1 employee.

Definitions: Managers, Executives, and Specialized Knowledge

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has developed regulations that narrowly define L-1A managers, executives, and employees with specialized knowledge.

An L-1A manager is an employee whose work primarily involves the following:

  • Management of the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization; Supervision and control of the work of other supervisors, professionals, or managers, or management of an essential function of the organization, or a department of the organization;
  • Hiring and firing of employees or recommending those and other personnel actions if the management position involves management of subordinates, or, if there are no subordinates, functioning at a senior level within the organization’s hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
  • Use of discretion to manage day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority.

8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B)

An L-1A executive is as an employee whose work primarily involves the following:

Directing the organization’s management or a major component or function of the organization; Establishing the goals and policies of the organization, a component of the organization, or a function of the organization; Exercising broad discretionary decision making; and Receiving only general direction from high-level executives, the board of directors, or shareholders.

8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C)

An L-1B employee is a person with specialized knowledge. Specialized knowledge is defined as advanced knowledge concerning a business’ products, research, services, techniques, management, equipment, or interests and its applications in the international marketplace, or advanced knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(D).

In recent years, the USCIS has strictly interpreted L-1A statutes and regulations and has denied many L-1A petitions because it has found that the positions did not involve high-level managerial responsibilities. The USCIS will deny a case if it finds that the position is for a front line supervisor or involves duties concerned with administrative tasks or management of non-professionals.

As with the L-1A classification, the USCIS narrowly construes L-1B statutes and regulations. The government field guidance states that in order to qualify for L-1B classification, the intracompany transferee is required to have specialized knowledge that is uncommon, noteworthy, or distinguished by some unusual quality and is not generally known by practitioners in the alien’s field of endeavor. Adjudicator’s Field Manual, Appendix 32-1.

Despite the government’s narrow construction of the L-1A statutes and regulations, the Long Beach Immigration Attorneys at Garg and Associates have successfully filed hundreds of L-1A petitions for international firms and their foreign national employees from around the world, including clients from Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Germany, India, South Korea, France, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Russia, and the Ukraine.

Petition Process

The first step in any employment-based immigration process is to consult with an immigration lawyer. At Garg and Associates, your immigration lawyer will explain the petition process and documentation needed to win an approval. Once all of the documentation is compiled, the employer, through counsel, files a petition with the USCIS. The USCIS is authorized to grant L-1A classification for an initial period of three years, with two year extensions of status permitted thereafter. The total time an L-1A nonimmigrant may remain in the U.S. is seven years. The USCIS is authorized to grant L-1B classification for an initial period of three years, with two year extensions of status permitted thereafter. The total time an L-1B nonimmigrant may remain in the U.S. is five years. If the L-1 employee is coming to a new office in the U.S., the initial admission must be limited to a one-year period. A new office is defined as a U.S. firm that has been doing business through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for a period of one year or less. 8 C.F.R. section 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(F).

Following the approval of a petition for L-1 classification, the intracompany transferee may use the approval as a basis to apply for an L-1 visa before entering the U.S. If the intracompany transferee is already in the United States, he or she may request a change of status when the organization submits the petition for L-1 classification.

Some large organizations can qualify to submit “blanket” petitions. Blanket petitions streamline the L-1 petition process by eliminating the petitioner’s need to submit repeated evidence of its eligibility as an L-1 petitioner. Instead, blanket petitions only require evidence of the particular beneficiary’s qualifications. To qualify to use the blanket petition process, organizations must show the following:

  • (A) The petitioner and each of those entities are engaged in commercial trade or services;
  • (B) The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
  • (C) The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
  • (D) The petitioner and the other qualifying organizations have obtained approval of petitions for at least ten “L” managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous 12 months; or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a United States work force of at least 1,000 employees.

8 C.F.R. § 214.2(l)(4).

Because the language of the blanket L regulations refers to specialized knowledge “professionals,” for purposes of blanket petitions, specialized knowledge workers are required to possess bachelor’s degrees.

The best way to utilize the employment-based options under the U.S. immigration laws is to develop an international strategy well in advance. The Long Beach Immigration Attorneys are experienced in helping international companies plan for their long-term foreign national recruiting needs, whether they involve the L-1 visa process or any other visa category. Contact Garg and Associates, PC, Orange County transferee visa attorneys, today for a consultation.

If you or someone you know is need of immigration law services, please do not hesitate to call Garg & Associates at 281-362-2865 for a consultation today or use our Contact Form.