L-1A & L-1B Lateral Transfers
L-1A Transferring Executives from Abroad to U.S.
Businesses that function both in the United States and in their home country gain the benefits of the best of both areas. The L-1 visa is open to international organizations with offices in the US, and who transfer employees to the US office for temporary periods of time. This visa is sometimes referred to as the ‘intra-company transferee’ visa.
To obtain an L-1 visa, you must be able to prove that you have worked for the non-US company for at least one full year within the last three years as an executive, manager or employee with specialized knowledge. The L-1 visa enables the transfer of managers, executives and specialized knowledge personnel to a US office, subsidiary or affiliated company.
This visa comes in the following categories:
- L-1A visas – for executives and managers
- L-1B visas – for personnel with specialized knowledge.
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the US, under L-2 status. They are not allowed to work, but can attend school or college. Domestic servants may be eligible for a B-1 visa with work authorization.
The employer must file a petition with the USCIS Regional Service Center with jurisdiction over the location of the position or if the employee is Canadian at the port of entry into the US. Your petition should show that both the US and foreign-based company meet USCIS requirements for L-1 status. The US entity should be a branch office, subsidiary or affiliate of the foreign enterprise, and both companies should be actively engaged in business.
The USCIS will inform you of acceptance or denial of the petition within a short time or in the case of Canadian’s immediately at the port of entry. Upon approval, the USCIS will forward the petition to the US Consulate nearest your place of residence for review. If you are not in the US when your petition is approved, you must get your visa stamped at the US consulate before being allowed to enter the US. Your employer will receive the approval and after receipt you must then file for a non-immigrant visa at the Consulate. If approved, your visa will be valid for 3 years, or shorter if you are working for a start-up company.
Blanket Petition: A blanket petition eases the process of getting the L-1 visa. If a company has been defined as a blanket petition entity by USCIS, the company can directly authorize L-1 visas to eligible employees.