Do you have a high-level employee working for you overseas who you would like to transfer to your U.S. office? If so, the L-1 visa is a great option! Read on to learn about the L-1 visa, which is available to people in a managerial or executive position or with specialized knowledge seeking to transfer to an U.S. branch of their company.

What is an L-1 visa?

An L-1 visa is a temporary work visa. It is specifically designed to transfer overseas employees to an U.S. branch of a company, when the company needs a high-level employee to provide similar expertise in the U.S. to grow the company or establish a new U.S. office. There are two L-1 classifications:

  • L-1A, which is for executives or managers, and
  • L-1B, which is for employees with specialized knowledge.

L-1A visa holders must have the executive capacity, meaning that they can make a lot of important decisions for the company without a great amount of oversight, OR managerial capacity, meaning that they supervise other employees and manage a specific component of the company or all of it. L-1B visa holders must have a specialized set of knowledge that is vital to running the company, such as expertise in the product, service, organization, management, financial information, or other areas.

What are the eligibility criteria for an L-1 visa?

L-1 visa holders must meet the following criteria for eligibility:

  • Have been employed in the company’s overseas office, for one continuous year within the three years immediately before filing the petition, in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity;
  • Demonstrate the proposed employment in the U.S. is in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity;
  • Have a physical office to work at upon entry into the U.S.; and
  • Will be working at the new U.S. office within one year of the approval of the visa petition.

How do you apply for an L-1 visa?

The L-1 visa is not self-petitioning, meaning that an employer must file the petition on the employee’s behalf. To file, you will need to submit the appropriate forms, pay the required fee, and provide all required supporting documentation to establish that the Petitioner employer and Beneficiary employee meet all the eligibility criteria.

The L-1 visa can be a simple and straightforward way to bring important employees already working at your overseas company to the U.S., and to also grow your company! If you are interested in transferring an employee with managerial or executive responsibility or a specialized knowledge set, contact us for an assessment and for guidance throughout the L-1 visa process.


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