Are you applying for an L-1A visa and wondering if the position overseas and the position in the U.S. is executive or managerial? While both categories require a certain level of authority and power over an organization, there are some key differences between the two that you will need to consider when applying for an L-1A visa. Read on to learn more about how to decide which category to apply under!

Overview of the L-1A Visa

An L-1 “Intracompany Transferee” visa grants non-immigrant status for executives, managers, or specialized employees, who currently work abroad for a company with legal status in the U.S. and seek to transfer to the U.S. office. Companies may want to transfer employees between international and U.S. branches, and parent, affiliate, and subsidiary companies, to ensure cohesive and aligned objectives and processes between all branches. On an L-1 Visa, you may only transfer within the company, not to a different company. There are two types of L-1 visas: L-1A, which is for employees with managerial or executive jobs, and L-1B, which is for employees who have specialized knowledge. If you would like to learn more about L-1 visas, see our blog posts about overview on applying for an L-1 visa and FAQs about L-1 visas.

The L-1A visa is specifically for someone working in “managerial or executive capacity,” which means one of the highest-level employees of the company. Both managerial and executive capacity employees direct significant company functions and work with other senior-level employees to oversee high level operations for the company.

Differences Between Managerial and Executive Capacity

The primary difference between managerial and executive capacity is that managerial capacity is better-suited to people supervising the work of professional employees within the organization, whereas executive capacity is better-suited to people whose work primarily involves sitting on the board of executives and making decisions for the organization. 

The official USCIS definition of managerial capacity is as follows:

  • Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
  • Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
  • Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) if another employee or other employees are directly supervised, or, if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
  • Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional.

The official USCIS definition of executive capacity is as follows:

  • Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
  • Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
  • Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and
  • Receives only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization.

As indicated by these definitions, managerial capacity jobs have a greater emphasis on management of a subdivision, team of professionals, or another significant portion of the operation. Managerial capacity jobs can include CEOs, managing directors, regional directors, division managers, and more. Executive capacity jobs, on the other hand, are more likely to be specific roles on the board of executives who oversee company decisions and operations, as opposed to specific teams. 

Sometimes an individual can fit into both an executive and manager definition or the job duties and responsibilities overlap; in this situation, it is important to work with an immigration attorney to clarify the position and put together a clear picture for USCIS. Additionally, an individual can work in one capacity in the overseas company and seek to work in the other capacity in the U.S. If you establish you meet the appropriate definition and the requirements of the position and visa with documentation, you will be able to successfully petition for an L-1A visa. If you would like to learn more about the L-1A visa, contact us for an assessment.

Scroll to top