Visas For Intra Company Transferees

The following is information relating to obtaining an L-1 visa for under Section 101(a)(15)(L) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The L visa is for intra-company transferees and allows unlimited travel to and from the United States. It usually is granted for a period of one to three years with extensions available up to a total of five or seven years. An L-1B specialized knowledge visa holder may obtain extensions for up to five years whereas, an individual in L-1A managerial or executive status may obtain extensions for up to seven years. It is possible to maintain L visa status while applying for permanent residency. Obtaining an L visa on the basis of being an executive or manager also has the advantage of making available a "short cut" through the process for obtaining a permanent resident visa.

The key requirements for qualification for the L-Visa are:

a. The applicant must have been employed continuously outside the U.S. for one (1) or more of the past three (3) years by a parent, affiliate or subsidiary of a U.S. company.

b. The foreign national must seek to enter the United States temporarily to continue the same type of work (managerial, executive (L-1A) or involving specialized knowledge (L-1B)) for the affiliate or subsidiary. The employee does not have to be working full-time in the U.S., but must designate a significant portion of his\her time on a regular and systematic basis.

The "affiliate or subsidiary" requirement must be documented extensively. One company may own or control the other, or there may be common ownership by a third company. Extensive documentation regarding the foreign corporation as well as the U. S. Corporation is required. Ownership or control usually is documented by stock certificates. If the stock in the Indiana corporation is held by a foreign holding company, and if the foreign holding company controls both the Indiana and the foreign company, then the case would meet the requirements.

The employment abroad in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge position also must be clearly documented. Frequent trips to the U.S. in connection with work will not interrupt the (1) year requirement. Pay stubs and/or letters from people with personal knowledge of the working activity who can confirm both the period of time and the nature of the duties would be helpful.

The requirement that the position must be executive, managerial or involve specialized knowledge is quite important. Managerial capacity means that the applicant must personally manage the organization; supervise and control the work of other professionals or manage entirely an essential function within the organization; have the authority to hire and fire; or (if no direct supervision), function at a senior level; and exercise discretion over day to day operations. First line supervisors are not considered managers unless they are supervising professionals.

Executive capacity means that the employee directs the management of the organization or a major component or function; establishes goals and policies; exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision making; and receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives.

In determining whether an individual is acting in a managerial or executive capacity other factors are taken into consideration such as the reasonable needs of the organization, the salary being paid, etc.

Characteristics of an employee with specialized knowledge include possession of knowledge that is valuable to the employer's competitiveness in the market place, unique qualifications to contribute to the employer's knowledge of foreign operating conditions, past employment as a key employee, or knowledge which can be gained only through extensive prior experience with that specific employer. The employee should have an advanced level of expertise and proprietary knowledge of the employer's product, service, techniques, management or other activity.

The USCIS form which is used for the L application is form I-129 and the I-129 L supplement. It is innocuously simple. The petition is granted or approved on the basis of a letter explaining that the requirements under the law and regulations have been met and referring to the documentation accompanying the petition which corroborate each point.

USCIS regulations indicate that these petitions are to be adjudicated by the Service Center within 30 days of submission.

This particular status also allows for employment authorization for L-2 dependents (i.e., spouses and children). The L-2 dependent must apply for employment authorization through the service center having jurisdiction over their place of residence.