Who is Eligible?
Employees being transferred from a foreign company to a U.S. company
require an L-1 visa from the Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS). The employee must be an executive, manager or a person with
specialized knowledge with at least one year of previous foreign
experience with a foreign company. The employee may be eligible
to either work at a pre-existing subsidiary/branch office or he/she
may be eligible to start-up a new branch/subsidiary office for the
Parent Company abroad.
An executive is one who directs the management of an organization
or major component or function of the organization. He or she establishes
goals and policies and exercises wide latitude in discretionary
decision making, receiving only general supervision or direction
from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders
of the organization.
A manager is one who has supervision and control over the work of
other supervisory, professional or managerial employees, or who
manages an essential function, department or subdivision of an organization.
A manager has the authority to execute or recommend personnel actions
if others are directly supervised. If no other employees are supervised,
he or she must function at a senior level within the organization
or with respect to the function managed and exercise discretion
over the day-to-day operations of the organization of function managed.
To qualify as an employee with specialized knowledge, the individual
must possess special knowledge of the petitioning organization's
product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or
other interests, and its application in the international markets.
The employee may also qualify under L-1 classification if he or
she has an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's
processes or procedures.
There must be a subsidiary, affiliate or branch office relationship
between the foreign and U.S. companies where there is either more
than 50% stock control or a 50/50 joint venture with joint veto
power. Requirements that the U.S. company train replacement persons
have been removed.
The requirements for an L-1 visa include proof of continuous foreign
employment for one year in the previous three years immediately
prior to the application. The foreign employment requirement is
satisfied even if there is a valid interruption in the performance
of duties for the foreign company. If you enter the United States
in your capacity as an employee of the organization on some other
type of visa, the time you spent working in the United States under
a valid visa will not be counted against you in assessing the one
year requirement. However, neither will it be counted as applicable
to the one year previous foreign employment.
The relationship between companies is demonstrated either by showing
that the corporations are the same or that one is a subsidiary,
affiliate or branch office of the other.
How to Apply
An L-1 visa application for foreign nationals must be approved through
an INS Regional Service Center and takes four weeks to process.
The INS then sends the approval notice to a U.S. consulate where
the applicant obtains the L-1 visa. Where the applicant is in lawful
status in the United States, he or she may Change his or her status
within the U.S.
Duration of Visa
For a business that is just starting up, an L-1 visa is valid for
one year. For businesses that have already been doing business in
the United States for a year or longer, the visa is valid for up
to three years with two-year extensions available for a total of
up to five years for an employee with specialized knowledge, and
up to seven years for an executive or manager. L-1 extensions have
to be filed in the U.S. at the INS Regional Service Center where
the business is located.
Status of Spouse and Minor Children
The foreign national spouse or unmarried minor children of a foreign
national with an L-1 visa are entitled to the same nonimmigrant
classification and the same length of stay as the employee. The
foreign national spouse and children are admitted with L-2 visas.
The employee's spouse may apply for Work Authorization and may accept
employment in the United States. INS Allows for Expedited Premium
Processing in this category.
Phoenix based Arizona Immigration
Law Firm providing Immigration services in Phoenix, Arizona
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