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L-1A Visas: Transferring Executives And Managers To The United States

An L-1A visa is a nonimmigrant status and visa typically valid for 3 years, with 2-year extensions, for a maximum stay of 7 years. The L-1A visa nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.

Common L-1A Questions And Answers

Who is eligible for an L-1 visa?

L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad. This type of visa will allow the employee to relocate to the company’s U.S. office.

Are there any other qualifications associated with an L-1 visa?

Yes, one important criterion is that the employee must have worked abroad for the sponsoring overseas company for at least one continuous year. Within the previous three years prior to admission to the United States.

Are there any special requirements for the company or can any company qualify?

A company will qualify to sponsor L-1 visas if the U.S. branch and foreign branch can be classified in at least one of four manners: parent and subsidiary; branch and headquarters; sister companies owned by a mutual parent; or ‘affiliates’ owned by the same or people in approximately the same percentages. The company must also already have employees in both the United States (unless a new office, see below) and one other country.

Can any level of employee qualify for an L-1 visa?

In addition to the above-mentioned one year of continuous work for the country within the three years immediately preceding their admission to the United States. After that, they must also be serving in an executive or managerial capacity for the employer.

Can this type of visa be used if the foreign corporation is trying to establish a new office in the United States?

This type of visa is allowable for a new office in the United States but the threshold of criteria for the company increases to include that:

  1. The employer has a physical premise to house the new office;
  2. The sponsored employee has been in an executive or managerial position with the company for at least 1 of the 3 prior years;
  3. The proposed U.S office site will support an executive or managerial position within 1 year of the petition’s approval.

Are there any other caveats regarding employees coming to the United States to establish a new office?

Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of only one year instead of three.

Are employees coming to the United States to establish a new office allowed to extend their stay if necessary?

Yes, the rules regarding L-1A visa extensions are the same for everyone. Granting extension may be in increments amounting to an additional 2 years. However, in no case shall the time period of an L-1 visa exceed the maximum 7 years limit.

Can a spouse or children accompany an L-1 worker to the United States?

Yes, legal spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for and be granted L-2 visa for the same time period as the L-1 employee.

Are spouses of L-1 Workers gain employment in the United States?

Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. After approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.

Can an L-2 spouse seek employment in the United States?

A legal spouse of an L-1 recipient may apply for authorization to work. By filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

Schedule A Free Consultation With Fok Immigration Law

At Fok Immigration Law, we know immigration law. Our team diligently guides foreign nationals through the visa process. We can help you secure temporary employment and permanent employment visas. Call our San Jose office at 408-212-7014 or contact us online. We serve clients in the Bay Area and throughout California.