What is an L-1 Visa?

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What is an L-1 Visa?

If you haven’t heard of the L-1 visa, you’re probably not alone.  The L-1 visa isn’t available to individuals or most workers, yet at least 100,000 have been issued every year since at least 2000.  The L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transfers is only available to certain workers of certain companies with certain skills or knowledge.  The L-1 is available to executives, managers, and specialized workers of foreign companies seeking to establish an office in the United States or existing U.S. employers with affiliated foreign officers.

An intracompany transfer is a transfer that stays inside the same company.  L-1 visas are only available to companies transferring an employee to the U.S. from a foreign parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate.  L-1 visas are not available to job seekers in the same way as an H-1B visa.  L-1 visas are only available to qualified employees who have been working for the company for at least one continuous year in the past three years.  Also different from most other visas, the workers themselves do not apply for the visa.  Instead, the employer seeks the visa on behalf of their employees.  Companies that request a lot of L-1 visas even have the option to expedite the process.

There are actually two types of L-1 visas.  The L-1A visa covers executives and managers being transferred to the U.S. while the L-1B is for employees with specialized knowledge.  There is only a slight difference between the visas.  Two of the biggest differences are the maximum length of stay and adjustment of status options.  The maximum stay difference is that the L-1A is maximum seven years while the L-1B is maximum five years.  And for adjustment of status, when seeking permanent residence under an EB visa, the L-1A adjusts to an EB-1 and the L-1B adjusts to an EB-2.  It’s much easier to receive a green card in the EB-1 category.

For employees establishing a new office in the U.S., the L-1 is valid for one year.  For employees transferring to an existing office in the U.S., the L-1 is valid for three years.  Families, specifically spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, of L-1 visa holders can enter the U.S. on L-2 visas.  L-2 visa holders can legally work in the United States after seeking employment authorization.

Multi-national businesses seeking to transfer executives, managers, or workers with specialized knowledge to the United States can seek the help of an experienced U.S. immigration and visa law firm to make the L-1 visa process simple.  The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth has been helping workers enter the United States for over three decades.  For a free L-1 visa consultation, call our offices today at 888-517-9888.

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