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L-1 Intra-Company Tranferee Visa
The Introduction

The L-1 intra-company transferee visa allows executives, managers, and employees with specialized skills to transfer from the foreign company to a U.S. office, subsidiary, or affiliated company to perform temporary services. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service usually decides petitions in 30-60 days.  With an additional $1225 fee paid for premium processing, an applicant can obtain approval as short as 15 calendar days.

L-1 visas are granted initially for 1 to 3 years with extensions available in three-year increments, with a total stay not to exceed seven years. The intra-company transferee is allowed to work for the U.S. subsidiary or affiliate company. The spouse and children under 21 are allowed to accompany the L-1 visa holder during the period of the transferee status. 

In limited circumstances, it may be possible to convert the L-1 visa for executives and managers to lawful permanent residence status. The applicant must have been employed by the foreign "parent company" for at least twelve months during the three year period immediate prior to filing the L-1 visa application. 

The applicant must have been employed as an executive, manager, or as a specialized skill worker for a minimum of twelve months during the three years immediately preceding the filing of the L-1 visa petition. The applicant be employed as an executive, manager, or as a specialized skill worker for the same company, or its U.S. subsidiary or affiliate. 

The current (foreign) and prospective ( U.S. ) companies must be either the same company, or related by subsidiary or affiliate ownership. L-1 visas may not be extended beyond a total of seven years. There must be continual existence of the foreign company during the transferee's stay in the U.S.

The Legal Standard

The Immigration and Naturalization Act Section 101(a)(15)(L) provides:

An alien who, within 3 years preceding the time of his application for admission into the United States, has been employed continuously for one year by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to continue to render his services to the same employer or a subsidiary or affiliate thereof in a capacity that is managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge, and the alien spouse and minor children of any such alien if accompanying him or following to join him;.

USCIS regulation further provides that “Intercompany transferee means an alien who, within three years preceding the time of his or her application for admission into the United States, has been employed abroad continuously for one year by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary thereof, and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily in order to render his or her services to a branch of the same employer or a parent, affiliate, or subsidiary thereof in a capacity that is managerial, executive, or involves specialized knowledge.  8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(A).

Managerial capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

(1)   Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;

(2)    Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;

(3)   Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization) if another employee or other employees are directly supervised; if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and

(4)   Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function or which the employee has authority.  A First –line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of the supervisor’s supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional. 8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B).

Executive capacity means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:

(1)   Directs the management of the organization of a major component or function of the organization;

(2)   Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;

(3)   Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making; and

(4)   Receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stock holders of the organization. 8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C).

New Office means an organization which has been doing business in the United States through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for less than one year. 8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(F).

Qualifying organization means a United States or foreign firm, corporation, or other legal entity which: (1) meets exactly one of the qualifying relationships specified in the definitions of a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary specified in paragraph (l)(1)(ii) of this section; (2) is or will be doing business (engaging in international trade is not required) as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary for the duration of the alien’s stay in the United States as an intracompany transferee; and (3) otherwise meets the requirements of section 101(a)(15)(L) of the Act.  8 CFR Section 214.2(l)(1)(i)(G)

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad. 8 CFR Section 214.2(l)(1)(i)(H)

Parent means a firm, corporation, or other legal entity which has subsidiaries. 8 CFR Section 214.2(l)(1)(i)(I)

Branch means an operating divisions or office of the same organization housed in a different location. 8 CFR Section 214.2(l)(1)(i)(J)

Subsidiary means a firm, corporation, or other legal entity of which a parent owns, directly or indirectly, more than half of the entity and controls the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, half of the entity and controls the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, 50 percent of a 50-50 joint venture and has equal control and veto power over the entity; or owns, directly or indirectly, less than half of the entity, but in fact controls the entity. 8 CFR Section 214.2(l)(1)(i)(K)

Affiliate means (1) one of the two subsidiaries both of which are owned and controlled by the same parent or individual, or (2) One of two legal entities owned and controlled by the same group of individuals, each individual owning and controlling approximately the same share or proportion of each entity. 8 CFR Section 214.2(l)(1)(i)(L)

8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(l)(3) further provides that a petition for intra-company transferee must be accompanied by

(i)     Evidence that the petitioner and the organization which employed or will employ the alien are qualifying organizations as defined in paragraph (1)(1)(ii)(G) of this section.  

(ii)         Evidence that the alien will be employed in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity, including a detailed description of the services to be performed.

(iii)       Evidence that the alien has at least one continuous year of full-time employment abroad with a qualifying organization within the three years preceding the filing of the petition.

(iv)       Evidence that the alien’s prior year of employment abroad was in a position that was managerial, executive, or involved specialized knowledge and that the alien’s prior education, training, and employment qualifies him/her to perform the intended services in the United States; however, the work in the United need not be the same work which the alien performed abroad.

(v)         If the petition indicates that the beneficiary is coming to the United States as a manager or executive to open or to be employed in a new office in the United States, the petitioner shall submit evidence that:

(A)  Sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured;

(B)   The beneficiary has been employed for one continuous year in the three year period preceding the filing of the petition in an executive or managerial capacity and that the proposed employment involved executive or managerial authority over the new operation; and

(C)   The intended United States operation, within one year of the approval of the petition, will support an executive or managerial position as defined in paragraphs (l)(1)(ii)(B) or (C) of this section, supported by information regarding:

(1)   The proposed nature of the office describing the scope of the entity, its organizational structures, and its financial goals;

(2)   The size of the United States investment and the financial ability of the foreign entity to remunerate the beneficiary and to commence doing business in the United States

(3)   The organizational structure of the foreign entity

(vi) If the beneficiary is an owner or major stockholder of the company, the petition must be accompanied by evidence that the beneficiary’s services are to be used for a temporary period and evidence that the beneficiary will be transferred to an assignment abroad upon the completion of the temporary services in the Untied States.

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The Q & A

(1)  If I apply for L-1 visa, can my family and the children go with me to the United States?

Yes, spouse and children under the age of 21 can apply for L-2 visa and enter the United States with the principle L-1.  Upon arrival, the L-2 spouse may apply for work permits in the United States. Children under the age of 21 can attend free public high schools in the place of residence.

(2)  How long is the duration of the L-1 visa?

L-1 for a new company will be approved for one year.  L-1A manager or executive can be on L-1 status for a total of seven years.  If the petitioner is not a new company, the first approval is for three years.  An extension of 2 years may be applied for two times. L-1B employees with specialized knowledge can be on L-1B status for up to five years.  If the petitioner is not a new company, the initial approval for L-1B will be for three years, an extension of 2 years each time may be extended.

(3)  What is the advantage of having an L-1A from the perspective of a green card over other visa categories? 

L-1A usually applies for permanent residency through EB1C green card for multinational executives and managers, which does not require a labor certification.  There is also no permanent visa number back log for this visa category.  As compared with EB5, an applicant starts with an L-1 and then EB1c secure the green card without any conditions and there is no requirement to produce employment of a fixed number. 

(4)  How much fund is needed to establish a U.S. company to qualify for a new company L-1A?

It is very different according to the company's industry and operating characteristics.  It is important to bear in mind that there is no fixed amount of capital required to invest in US business in order to obtain the initial L-1 for the new company.  There may be circumstances where USCIS requires that the petitioner shows a US company account with some amount of working capital and our experience show that if the amount is in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 it should be fine.  To secure the approval of the L-1 extension though, the new company needs to be in business for the initial year and incur business expenses as the company hire staff, lease office space, warehouses and other facilities, in addition to advertising, accountants, lawyers and other operating costs. 

(5)  If I have an L-1 for a new company, what level of financials should I have before my visa expires in order to qualify for the L-1 extension?

Before the L-1 new company visa expires, the petitioning company should be ready for documentation of its business in the first year of operation.  USCIS makes the extension decision based on the L-1A manager duties in the past year and the company's operating results. Usually a successful petitioner should achieve the turnover in the business plan submitted.

(6) When can the new company in the United States apply for a green card for the L-1 manager?

The new company must be in business for at least one year before it can apply for green card for the L-1A manager or L-1B professionals with specialized knowledge.  The financial performance of the company and the organizational structure of the company are the key to a successful application.  It usually takes up to 5-8 months before the applications are reviewed, so the L-1 need to successfully extended before the green card application is submitted.

(7)  I don’t think it is realistic for me to run the new company in US and I have no business to transfer to US, what should I do? 

You should consider purchase a US company directly as a subsidiary that has been in business for more than 1 year and we can file your green card right away.

(8)  In the L-1 application is submitted, how long does it take to get approved?

It will take USCIS between 30 to 120 days to decide but with premium processing 15 calendar days.

(9)  What is the procedure to apply for green card after I am L-1? 

Please see our Q & A section on EB1c. 

 

 

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