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: 1. L-1A visas – for executives and managers 2. 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. 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. These documents should be photocopies of the oiriginals. Upon approval, the USCIS will forward the petition to the US Consulate nearest your place of residence for review. If you are in the United States when the petition is filed, you can request for a change of status from the status you had initially entered. 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 recieve Form I-797. After receipt of the I-797, you must then file-in Form DS-156 at the Consulate. If your petition is not approved due to missing documents, USCIS will request further documentation. You will have generally 12 weeks to respond. But it is upto USCIS how much time it should afford you to respond. If approved, your visa will be valid for 1 or more. It is the USCIS that determines the validity period of time of the L visa depending on the nature and the size of the business. Blanket Petition: A blanket petition eases the process of gettign 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.
To apply for an L-1 Visa, you must supply the following documents:
- A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
- One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
- A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
- The employee copy of Form I-797. The Notice of Action, this petition is filed-in to the USCIS by your employer.
- USCIS Form I-129, and the L Supplement.
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 following documents may also be required:
- A letter from your prospective US employer on company letterhead detailing your position and the US operation’s status.
- Letters proving that the US and foreign entities are engaged in business. These can be from attornies, bankers or accountants.
- Proof of the size and status of the US and foreign entities.
- Documents that detail the value of the applicant’s skills in regards to the US entity.
You, the employee, should provide the following documents:
- A resume or curriculum vitae.
- Copies of passports for family members joining you.
- Proof of education: degrees, transcripts, etc.
- Reference letters from former employers.
- Professional licenses, if applicable.
If you are coming to the US to start a new office, you should also provide the following documents:
- Proof of a building or location for the new office. A lease will work for this.
- Proof of your relationship with the foreign entity.
- Proof of financial resoluteness. You must show that you can pay your US employees and handle any other business costs.