The L-1 transferees have to be either on managerial positions or they must possess key skills, knowledge or experience required by the US host organization. In order for the foreign employee to be eligible to apply for L-1 Intracompany transfer, they must have worked for the sending organization for a minimum of 12 months prior to the transfer. The two entities have to be related and proof of that should be provided. In order for the transfer to take place, the US based employer must be either a parent, child or sister company to the sending organization. The L-1 Intracompany transfer visa applies to non-profit or charitable organizations as well.
The US L-1 visa is suitable for start-up companies who are looking to expand their business to the USA and set up a branch there. It is also applicable to large businesses with offices worldwide who are looking to transfer managerial or key personnel to the US office who have specialized and in-depth knowledge of the operation of the business and who are able to facilitate the smooth operation and development of the US business. There are two types of US L-1 visas that relate to the two streams – L-1A Intracompany transfer for executives and key personnel and L-1B Intracompany transfer for transferees with specialized knowledge.
L-1A visa (for executives or managers)
The L-1A visa is available to executives and managers who are responsible for the operation of one or more of the department within the sending organization or the entire organization. The L-1A visa facilitates the transfer of managers with key skills and experience to work in a US branch or establish a new branch of the company. The L-1A visa can be approved for up to 1 year for start-up US businesses or up to 3 years for existing companies. Extensions are available to the L-1 visa, where each one can be approved for up to 2 years. L-1A visa holders can remain in the US for up to 7 years in total. In the meantime, that they may apply for a green card and stay permanently.
L-1B visa (employees with specialized knowledge)
The L-1B visa is developed for employee with highly specialized knowledge in their field that is required by the US entity. The transferee’s skills and knowledge can be related to a service, product of the company, or necessary for the operation or expansion of the US business. As with the L-1A visa, the applicant should have been employed by the sending organization for at least 12 months. They need to have qualifications equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or have sufficient amount of work experience to substitute for the formal qualifications. Three years of experience are relevant to one year of qualifications. The L-1B visa is issued for a year for newly established businesses and 3 years of existing companies. Extensions of 2 years each are available. The maximum period of stay is 5 years under the L-1B specialized knowledge stream. Applicants may apply for a US green card while they are on L-1B visa.
In order for the transferee to meet the L-1 requirements, the US host entity needs to apply to become an approved petitioner first. The relation between the sending and host entity needs to be evidenced, as well as details of the L-1 intracompany transferee, their current employment and the proposed job offer in the US. In general a new L-1 petition should be lodged for each employee, unless if the company is eligible and applies for a Blanket petition.
L-1 Blanket Petition Program
Large multinational organization who send employees to the US on regular basis can avail of an L-1 blanket petition provided that they are able to meet the eligibility requirements. Under this programme one L-1 petition can be issued to cover a number of managerial or specialized knowledge transferees to the US. The L-1 blanket petition can be used whenever there is a need to transfer employees to the US. Once the blanket petition has been issued the transferee needs to apply for an L-1A or L-1B visa. If the foreign employees have dependent family members they can vail of L2 visa.