L-1A Visa Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
The L-1A Visa is a nonimmigrant classification that enables multinational business to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to an office in the United States. The L-1A Visa classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing a “New Office”, business or other entity.
Before the foreign national worker can come to the U.S. and begin employment with the U.S. entity, he or she must apply for and be issued an L-1A visa from the U.S. Consulate in his or her home country. Prior to applying for an L-1A visa, the foreign national worker must be the beneficiary of an approved L1A Petition. This process begins with the employer filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) along with a filing fee and supporting documentation showing that both the U.S. company and the foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch and the foreign national employee meet the qualifying factors set forth in the law and regulations and summarized below.
General Qualifications of the Employer
To qualify for L-1A Visa 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 beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1A. 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.
General Qualifications of the Employee
- 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 employee’s 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 employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others.
New Offices (Business or Other Entity)
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.
The I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker filed by the employer with USCIS must be supported with substantial evidence documenting that the U.S. entity, foreign entity and foreign nation worker meet the qualification requirements outlined above.
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 visa 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 L-1A Workers
The foreign employee being transferred to the U.S. 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.
After being admitted to the U.S. in L-2 status, spouses of L-1A workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS and the requisite filing fee and supporting documentation. If approved, there is no restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.
Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1A petitions by filing a blanket petition. Eligibility for blanket L-1A 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-1A 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.
Upon approval of an individual or blanket petition, the foreign national worker being transferred to the U.S. entity may then apply for an L-1A Visa with the U.S. Consulate in his or her home country by submitting form DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Upon issuance of the L-1A Visa, the worker can then travel to the U.S. and apply for admission at the Port of Entry. Once admitted, he or she can then begin employment with the U.S. entity.
U.S. immigration law is complex. Filing a petition with USCIS for an L-1A visa should not be undertaken without first consulting a qualified immigration attorney. If you are a U.S. or foreign entity seeking to transfer an executive or manager to your entity in the U.S., the experienced immigration attorneys at Allen & Pinnix, P.A., can evaluate your needs, advise you of options and represent you throughout the entire process. Schedule a confidential consultation here or by calling our office: 919.755.0505.