An L-1A petition enables a US employer (including a newly formed US company) to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated US office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The L-1A visa category can lead to permanent residency (a Green Card). For transferring specialist employees, please see our L-1B section.
Greenwood Hanlon Kendrick act as immigration counsel for companies of all shapes and sizes across the world, providing bespoke advice and strategy. We are based internationally by the US Embassy in London to better serve our clients in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well those in Asia and Australasia. Contact us now for more information, and see our recent feature in the Times of London, courtesy of Raconteur Media.
The following information describes some of the features and requirements of the L1 visa program.
General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
- Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiarys stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
To qualify, the named employee must also:
- Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
- Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Executive capacity generally refers to the employees ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.
Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employees ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
L1 Visa “New Office” Business Plans
Writing a comprehensive business plan, demonstrating your new office L1A visa petition and application meets all of the requirements, often causes unnecessary anxiety. Seasoned investors, entrepreneurs, and business school graduates are used to writing business plans, but for very different audiences, and do not usually understand what a consular or immigration officer wants to see.
At Greenwood Hanlon Kendrick, we offer an unrivaled service. A well prepared and compliant business plan can make all the difference to your case. See our L1 visa business plan preparation service for details.
Period of Stay
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.
Family of L1 Visa Workers
The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. An L-2 dependent spouse has the right to apply for an Employment Authorization Document, allowing them to work legally in the United States.
Blanket L Petitions and Blanket L Visas
Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket L petition. Eligibility for blanket L certification may be established if:
The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations are engaged in commercial trade or services;
The petitioner has an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more;
The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations meet one of the following criteria:
Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted L-1A classification. It does, however, provide the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS.
Greenwood Hanlon Kendrick act as immigration counsel for companies of all shapes and sizes, and provides bespoke advice and strategy to meet your objectives. Contact us now for more information.
As an alternative to the L-1A, certain multinationals may meet the nationality and ownership criteria of the E-1 and E-2 categories, and source employee visas through those classifications.
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