An L-1 visa is one that is granted to an alien being transferred by his/her company in a foreign country to the United States. These workers come to the U.S. as intracompany transferees who are coming temporarily to perform services, for a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same company that employed him/her abroad either
– In a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A); or
– Which entail specialized knowledge (L-1B)
L-1 : Intracompany Transferees
Issued to executives and managers (L-1A) or employees with specialized skills (L-1B), so as to allow them to be transferred from a foreign corporation to its American subsidiary, branch office or affiliate. This visa is usually valid for a period of 5 years.
L-2 : Family
Issued to the spouse and children (under 21 years) of the beneficiary of the L-1 visa.
To facilitate the smooth transfer of senior level executives and managers or persons with specialized skills to companies that may have offices around the world and a presence in the U.S. However, it is also a very useful visa for financially viable businesses in foreign countries that wish to set up an office in the U.S. and require a senior level executive to oversee its operations. The investment required is much less than what would otherwise be required under the investor category, thereby allowing many small companies and even individual investors to benefit from the L category
(1) You must have worked for the same company abroad for at least 1 of the 3 preceding years as a (a) Manager, (b) Executive, or (c) In a position requiring specialized knowledge; and
(2) A job offer from your employer in the U.S.
Duration of Visa:
Maximum of 7 years (or 5 years for people with specialized knowledge), including extensions
The L visa allows you to come to the U.S. to work temporarily, if you are being transferred by your company to the U.S. and will continue to work for the parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same company. In order to qualify for a L visa, you must have worked abroad as an executive or manager for the company or have specialized knowledge, for the same company for at least 1 of the 3 preceding years. With L status, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for a maximum of 7 years (or 5 years for people with specialized knowledge), including any extensions. Unlike most other temporary visas, you may apply for a L visa even if you have plans or have taken preliminary steps to settle permanently in the U.S.
An L-2 visa is granted to the spouse and minor children of the L-1 applicant. A recently passed amendment to the law now allows spouses of L visa holders to work while they are in the United States (see below). The children, however, may not work, but may continue their studies.
Work Authorization for Spouses
The President has signed into law a new immigration new bill H.R. 2278. This will allow spouses of L visa holders to work while they are in the United States. Currently, spouses are allowed to accompany the principal visa holder for the length of their assignment, but are banned from working. The new rule will come as a welcome measure to many as most families depend on a dual income.
The new law also reduces the amount of time required for the applicant to be employed by a company before being eligible for a transfer on an L visa. The provision, known as ‘pre-employment blanket requirement’ currently requires the alien to have been employed for a minimum of one year within the last three years to be eligible for an L visa. This bill would reduce that period from one year to six months for those companies sending their executives/managers/workers with specialized knowledge and skills, under the L-1 blanket scheme.