L-1A Visa

L-1A Executive Intracompany Transferee Visas

An executive intracompany transferee visa can be obtained by foreign nationals working for an overseas company that has a branch or affiliate office in the United States.

The L-1 visa differes from the classic work visa in that the process of obtaining it requires proof that the foreign company is indeed (or will be) structurally related to the US company. To prove such connection, you need to show that both companies are owned by the same person (either the same founder owns more than 50% in each company, or one company owns part or all of the other company). To apply for an L-1 visa, you will also need to provide documents confirming that both companies are “doing business”, and do not exist only on paper. There are two types of L-1 visa: L-1A or L-1B.

The L-1 A category applies to aliens who work for a company with a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in the U.S. These workers come to the U.S. as intracompany transferees who are coming temporarily to perform services in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) for a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same employer that employed the professional abroad. Compensation level is not prescribed, but U.S. income must be sufficient to prevent the alien from becoming a public charge.

A manager’s visa can also be obtained for a newly opened subsidiary of a foreign business. In practice, you will need to show that the branch is actively preparing for doing business: for example, an office has already been rented, there are contracts, or negotiations are underway. All such activities to set up company operations should be documented. For a newly opened company, the L-1A visa will initially be issued for only 1 year, and not for 3 years.

L-1 A visa is available only to applicant who:

  1. has been employed abroad continuously for one year out of the last three years by a firm or corporation or other legal entity,
  2. in a managerial or executive capacity, and
  3. seeks admission to the U.S. to be employed in such capacity by a qualifying organization that is a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the foreign employer.

Answers to basic questions about L-1A visa

Are members of the leader's family eligible for a visa?
Dependents (i.e. spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age) of L-1 workers are entitled to L-2 status with the same restrictions as the principal. Dependents may be students in the U.S. while remaining in L-2 status; spouses of L-1 visa holders may also apply for work authorization. However, in 2022 the law was amended to permit spouses of L-1 visa holders to work according to their status, meaning they do not need to apply for work authorization any longer.
What is the maximum stay in the country on an L-1A visa?
L-1A (managerial or executive transferee) is limited to 7 consecutive years (Initial L-1 visa may be issued for 1 year or 3 years, and it can be extended for additional term of 2 years until the total of 7 years is reached). Employee is ineligible for L status again until he/she "has resided and been physically outside the United States, except for brief visits for business or pleasure, for the immediate prior year."
The concept of dual intent - what is it?
Dual intent concept is recognized by statute. Although L-1 is nonimmigrant and must comply with requirements of status, there is a presumption that she/he is a potential immigrant; she/he need not enter ''temporarily" or have a residence abroad which she/he has no intention of abandoning; and any indication of seeking permanent residence is not evidence of abandoning foreign residence for purposes of seeking or maintaining L status. This distinction from other nonimmigrant visas is very important for L-1 nonimmigrant while applying for certain immigration benefits.
How to apply for an L-1 visa?
Applying for an L-1 visa is a serious process, which largely depends on the situation at each particular enterprise and on the goals of the intra-corporate transfer. If a manager or specialist applies for an L-1 visa in order to organize / establish a branch of a company in the United States from scratch, it will only be necessary to show that the first steps towards the establishment have been taken. For example, they will need to provide a decision of the Board of Directors of a foreign company on the establishment of a branch in the United States, a business plan and an application for business registration. In this case, at first L-1 visa will only be issued for a year, with the right to extend it after providing evidence of more tangible steps taken towards opening a company. When applying for an L-1A visa, you must provide all documents of a foreign company proving its active existence, such as: registration documents; tax returns; contracts on their activities with suppliers, as well as similar documents for the branch/subsidiary in the USA.

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