L-1 International Employee Transfer Visas
L-1 International Employee Transfer Visas
The L nonimmigrant visa category allows multinational organizations to transfer executive and managerial-level (L-1A) and specialized knowledge employees (L-1B). The basic requirements and features of the L-1 visa category are:
· The transferee must be continuously employed abroad in an executive/managerial or specialized knowledge capacity for 1 of the past 3 years prior to the transfer by a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the US petitioning company which includes profit, nonprofit, religious and charitable organizations. Time spent in the US does not count toward the 1 year requirement – however, it does not interrupt the 1 year requirement.
· The transferee must work in an executive/managerial or specialized knowledge capacity in the US.
· Whether a transferee is employed in an executive or managerial capacity is normally a straightforward factual determination. Front-line supervisors are not considered managers unless they supervise professional-level employees.
· Specialized knowledge transfers must demonstrate special knowledge of the company’s products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its application in international markets … or have an advanced level of knowledge of the company’s processes and procedures. The USCIS sometimes takes a restrictive view of who qualifies as a specialized knowledge employee so the US petitioning company show be prepared to demonstrate that the specialized knowledge transferee is not merely a “skilled worker” but rather (for example) possesses product knowledge which is “noteworthy or uncommon” … and/or advanced product/process knowledge not generally known and would be difficult to teach to another employee without substantial financial hardship to the US or foreign company.
· The US petitioning company and overseas company must have (and maintain) a qualifying relationship. This generally means that one party to the transfer must have effective control of the other (e.g., parent/subsidiary, branch office) … or both are effectively controlled by the same third company (e.g., affiliated companies) … or both are owned/controlled by the same individual(s). 50/50 joint ventures are also acceptable since both entities have effective control by their respective veto power. Less than 50% common ownership may also be acceptable if effective control can be demonstrated.
· The transferee can be paid by the US or foreign company … but, the US company must have control of the transferee. The transferee can be paid any salary … but, a low salary may call into question whether the transferee is really an executive/manager or specialized knowledge employee.
· Executive/managerial (L-1A) and specialized knowledge (L-1B) transfers both receive up to an initial 3 year period of admission. The L-1A maximum length of stay is 7 years … and the L-1B maximum length of stay is 5 years. An L-1B can convert to an L-1A provided the employer provides at least 6 months advance notice to the USCIS before the 5 year maximum stay expires. L-1A petition for new office (US company doing business less than 1 year) is approved for 1 year initially and can be extended to 7 year maximum.
· L-1A transfers have a fast track to US permanent residence (Green Card) since no PERM application (advertising) is required. Further, L-1A transfers fall into the EB-1C immigrant visa category (Multinational Executives and Managers) and there are normally no backlogs other than normal processing time.
· L-1B transfers are subject to the PERM application process which makes it very difficult to convert L-1Bs to permanent residence since many L-1Bs fall into the EB-3 immigrant visa category (“Professionals and Skilled Workers”) and the current EB-3 category is oversubscribed and the backlog is well over the L-1B 5 year maximum stay. For this reason, it is very important (if possible) to seek initial classification as an L-1A transferee unless the transfer will not last longer than 5 years. L-1B (with at least Bachelor’s degree or equivalent education/experience) can convert to H-1B which has 6 year maximum and can be extended past 6 years if the Green Card process is underway.
· The US petitioning company must maintain primary and ultimate control of any L-1B transfer. Therefore, the L-1B transfer cannot be outsourced if he/she will be “stationed primarily” at the worksite and under the control and supervision of an unrelated company or placement at the unrelated worksite is “essentially an arrangement to provide labor for hire”.
· There is an expedited L Blanket Procedure for large organizations which (1) have an office and doing business in the US for 1 year, (2) have 3 or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries or affiliates and (3) have combined US annual sales of $25 million, US workforce of 1,000 or at least 10 L approved petitions in the past year. Nonprofit organizations cannot file L Blanket Petitions. The L Blanket procedures cannot be used for L-1B specialized knowledge positions that are not professional-level (i.e., requires at least a Bachelor’s degree). L Blanket petition is filed with USCIS Service Center and, upon approval, L-1 transfer applies for L-1 visa at US Consulate in home country/place of employment.
· Spouse and minor children of L-1 are given L-2 visas. Importantly, an L-2 spouse (but not children) is eligible to apply for employment authorization.
The Law Office of Mark Galvin has substantial experience and excellent track record with L-1 visa petitions. Contact the Law Office by e-mail or by calling 401-519-7214 or toll-free 888-859-2138 for services in the United States or abroad. We offer a flat fee structure.