An L-1 visa allows companies that operate here in the United States and abroad to bring in certain employees from its foreign operations. Workers with an L-1 visa may transfer from a foreign operation to one here in Los Angeles for up to seven years. They are available for anyone who has worked abroad for at least one year out of the last three years.
There are two categories of employees who can potentially qualify for an L-1 Visa:
- Executives and Managers (L-1A): Individuals in a foreign country who hold a supervisory role may be allowed to work in their company's LA-based operation on a limited basis. If they can prove that they are responsible for overseeing key functions and departments of the company, they can work here for three years. If they wish to stay longer, they can extend their stay in two-year increments until they have worked here for seven years.
- Specialized Knowledge Staff (L-1B): Companies often wish to have their most skilled employees transfer to other offices. When someone is working in another country, an L-1 visa may allow him or her to work here for three years, extendable to five years. They must show that they have specific knowledge of the company's research, systems, products, services, techniques, and/or procedures.
If a company wishes to transfer an executive or specialized knowledge employee from its affiliated foreign offices to an office in Los Angeles, its officials will have to work with an immigration attorney experienced on the increasingly complex L-1 issues. Qualified executives and managers who want to establish a new office in the United States will be initially allowed to work here for one year. All L-1A employees, however, may request additional time up to seven years.
Transferring employees may even bring along their spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age while they work here. However, their family members will need to seek approval by filing for an L-2 nonimmigrant classification. There are many reasons why it may be in a company's best interest to utilize the L-1 visa route, but not all applications are accepted. Legal guidance is often needed to complete the process efficiently and without denials from USCIS. Please contact our offices to obtain more information about what may be the right option for you.