L-1 Visa Requirements

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The L-1 visa, I’ve found in my work as an immigration attorney, has been in demand in the San Jose and San Francisco Bay areas. The point of the L-1 visa is to allow managers, executives or workers who work in a foreign country to transfer to a branch or subsidiary company in the U.S. If no U.S. office exists, then a L-1 may be granted to establish a new office in the U.S.

Large companies that do a lot of business can obtain Blanket L-1 visas, which allows for the quick processing of paperwork and issuing of visas. In order to qualify, a company must employ at least 1,000 U.S. workers, have generated sales of $25 million or more and have had 10 ore more L-1 visas approved the year before.

Here are the general criteria for approval for a L-1 visa:

  • In the last three years prior to the transfer, the worker must have been employed by the company for one year as an executive, manager or in a position of specialized knowledge or skill.
  • Although they do not have to be in the same position as they were in their original country, they do need to come to the U.S. to serve in some executive, managerial or position of specialized knowledge or skill.
  • The company in the U.S. and the one located in the foreign land must have a formal relationship (ie subsidiary, affiliate or branch).

There are two subcategories for the L-1:

  • L-1A: These visas are for qualifying executives and managers.
  • L-1B: These visas are designed for qualified workers who hold positions of specialized knowledge or possess specific skills.

When I work as an immigration lawyer with companies and individuals I counsel them that the length of time for L-1 visas varies. If establishing a new office, it’s one-year (which may be renewed at the end of the first year). For those coming into the U.S. to work in an already established office, then the initial length of stay is three years with the possibility of a two-year extension for a specialized knowledge worker.  L1 executives may stay in the U.S. on their L1A visa for up to seven years.

These are the basics that I’ve found are most important in terms of understanding the essence of the L-1 visa. My work as an immigration lawyer involves many more details as they relate to each case and company. This is especially true as the climate regarding immigrant continues to change.

For more information on L1 Visas, please visit the L1 Visa section of our website.

Please contact the Ranchod Law Group with offices in San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento California, at info@ranchodlaw.com or at 415-986-6186 if you have any questions regarding immigration.
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