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>> An Introduction to L1 visas >> Can my company make L1 visa applications? >> Do we qualify for a 'blanket' L1 petition?
>> Does the candidate qualify for an L1 visa? >> I want to apply and know the process for an L1 visa >> FAQs
An Introduction to L1 visas
L1 visa for the United States is a non-immigrant visa for companies operating both in the U.S. and abroad. This visa allows the transfer of certain classes of employees from its foreign operations to the U.S. operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company outside of the U.S. for at least one year out of the last three years.

To apply for this visa, companies operating in the U.S. may apply to the relevant BCIS service center. Once the L1 visa is issued, the company can transfer that employee from their overseas operations to the U.S. Employees in this category will initially be granted an L1 visa for up to three years.

Two types of employees are allowed to be sponsored for L1 visas:

  • Executives or Managers
A detailed description of the duties attached to the respective position is required, as the legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict. According to the rules, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa for a three year period, which is extendable in 2-year increments up to a maximum of 7 years.

  • Specialized Knowledge Staff
Staff in this category is issued an L1B visa initially for a period of three years, extendible to a maximum of five years. This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, proprietary techniques, management procedures, research or systems.

The employee, on completing the maximum allowable period in L1 status, must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.
An Introduction to L1 visas
L1 visa for the United States is a non-immigrant visa for companies operating both in the U.S. and abroad. This visa allows the transfer of certain classes of employees from its foreign operations to the U.S. operations for up to seven years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. company outside of the U.S. for at least one year out of the last three years.

To apply for this visa, companies operating in the U.S. may apply to the relevant BCIS service center. Once the L1 visa is issued, the company can transfer that employee from their overseas operations to the U.S. Employees in this category will initially be granted an L1 visa for up to three years.

Two types of employees are allowed to be sponsored for L1 visas:

  • Executives or Managers
A detailed description of the duties attached to the respective position is required, as the legal definition of management and executive roles for these purposes is quite strict. According to the rules, the executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility for professional staff and/or for a key function, department or subdivision of the employer. Such personnel are issued an L1A visa for a three year period, which is extendable in 2-year increments up to a maximum of 7 years.

  • Specialized Knowledge Staff
Staff in this category is issued an L1B visa initially for a period of three years, extendible to a maximum of five years. This category covers those with knowledge of the company's products/services, proprietary techniques, management procedures, research or systems.

The employee, on completing the maximum allowable period in L1 status, must be employed outside the United States for a minimum of one year before a new application is made for L or H status.
Can my company make L1 visa applications?
Any organization which is 'conducting business' in the United States can sponsor an L1 visa. However, the conditions to this clause are:
  • The candidate qualifies in either L1A or L1B category
  • The sponsoring organization carries on doing business outside the United States for the duration of the worker's L1 status
There is no restriction on the type of business that can sponsor an L1 visa – corporations, partnerships, government-owned entities and non-profit organizations are all eligible. It is also not required that the sponsoring organization be United States-owned or incorporated as long as there is some equity or ownership link between the transferor organization and the transferee organization in the United States.


Qualifying Relationships
In order to sponsor an application for an L1 visa:
  • A foreign parent company must own at least 50% of a U.S. subsidiary, and have veto powers over the subsidiary's actions
  • A U.S. parent company must own at least 50% of the foreign subsidiary, and have veto powers over the subsidiary's actions
  • Affiliate U.S. and foreign companies must each be at least 50% owned by the same ultimate parent company
  • A U.S. organization with a branch office abroad qualifies for filing an L1, as does a foreign organization with a U.S. branch (though this must be more than simply an agent or representative)
  • A U.S. organization which employs people overseas (e.g. sales personnel) can sponsor such employees for L1s even if there is no non-U.S. office.
Note that in the case of very large corporations, where a substantial minority shareholding will be a qualifying relationship, the ownership requirements are not that strict.
Do we qualify for a 'blanket' L1 petition?
The following are the requirements for qualifying for a ‘blanket’ L1 petition:
  • The organization should have been doing business in the United States for a minimum of one year
  • It should be engaged in commercial trade or services (i.e. charities, etc. do not qualify for a 'blanket’ L1)
  • It should have at least 3 offices in the U.S. and overseas
  • It should have either:
    • Sponsored at least 10 successful individual L1 petitions in the last 12 months
    • U.S. annual sales exceeding $25,000,000 or
    • A U.S. work force of at least 1000 employees
An organization can include an unlimited number of qualifying foreign parents, subsidiaries, affiliates or branch offices in a 'blanket' petition. If approved, a ‘blanket’ petition considerably speeds up subsequent L1 visa applications (from 4-6 weeks to about 10 days), which are processed at the U.S. consulate in the employee's own country rather than by the BCIS in the United States. The transferring employee of a foreign organization covered by the ‘blanket’ petition merely has to prove his/her own eligibility as an Executive/Manager or a Specialized Knowledge Worker, rather than both this and the relationship between the U.S. and foreign employers. However, note that a 'Specialized Knowledge Worker’ coming to the US under a ‘blanket’ L1 approval must be a professional.
Does the candidate qualify for an L1 visa?
In order for the candidate to qualify for L1, the following is required:
  • L1 employees must have been employed by the company outside of the U.S. for at least one of the three years preceding the transfer unless they are a beneficiary of a blanket petition. It does not matter if the worker was directly employed by the sponsor, or paid through an agency or personal service company or even on a freelance basis, provided the sponsor had management and control over the worker during the qualifying year.
  • The employee must have been employed during the qualifying year as an Executive, Manager, or Specialized Knowledge Worker. It is permissible for a Specialized Knowledge Worker to come to the United States as a Manager or Executive, and for a Manager or Executive to come as a Specialized Knowledge Worker, provided the U.S. operation has been doing business for at least one year.
As noted previously, the 'standard of proof' for Managers and Executives is quite strict – they must generally supervise other professional or managerial staff and/or direct and control the day-to-day operations of a significant function, unit or subdivision of the employer. Specialized Knowledge Workers, however, qualify relatively easily – any employee with familiarity with the employer's specific products, procedures or methods may qualify.
L1 Visa Application Process
1. You complete our online appraisal form

2. SunbeltNE considers the application. If your company, the position and the candidate are eligible for an L1 visa, SunbeltNE will e-mail you:

a. A formal instruction form is to be filled and returned

b. Details of any additional data required, and confirmation of the documents needed


3. You post documents to SunbeltNE at:
800 West Cummings Park, Suite 2000,
Woburn, MA 01801,U.S.A.


4. SunbeltNE compiles and submits your petition to the BCIS at the appropriate Regional Service Center

5. After 2 to 3 months, the petition is approved, and the Notice of Approval is returned to you. The candidate then takes these documents to the relevant U.S. consulate for issue of the L1 visa. SunbeltNE will provide full instructions and forms, and in some instances can arrange for visa issuance.
FAQs
Q: Is there any limit on the number of L1 visas available in a year?
A: No, there is no limit on the number of L1 visas available in a year.

Q: Can spouses and children of L1 visa-holders work in the U.S.?
A: L-2 dependant spouses can now obtain a general work authorization, which has to be applied for separately. Children who hold a L2 visa cannot work.

Q: Can I move L1 employees to different sites around the U.S.?
A: Yes, provided they remain under your management and control.

Q: What are the filing fees?
A: The fees for filing are $190 plus an additional USCIS Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee of $500.

Q: How long does it take to get an L1?
A: It usually takes 2-4 months for a normal L1 visa to be issued and around 1-3 weeks for an L1 covered by a blanket approval.

Q: Is it possible to speed up the process?
A: Yes. The BCIS has instituted a program called Premium Processing. If the BCIS is paid an extra $1,000 on a separate check, it guarantees that it will adjudicate the petition in 15 days or notify the petitioner if more evidence is needed.

Q: Can the alien come to the U.S. on a visitor visa or visa-waiver while the L1 petition is being processed?
A: This is possible but not advisable. The alien should also keep in mind that under no account should he/she risk putting in jeopardy the issue of an L1 visa by engaging in anything that might be construed as work. Such an action may lead to the alien being accused of visa-fraud either on entry to the U.S. with a visitor visa/visa-waiver or when applying for an L1 visa at the U.S. consulate in their own country.

Q: Can L1 employees work part-time?
A: Yes, they can work part-time.

Q: Is there a requirement that I pay L1 workers the 'prevailing wage'?
A: No, there is no such requirement. However, paying L1 workers significantly below the prevailing wage and/or the wages of your U.S. resident staff is likely to result in the BCIS viewing your petition unfavorably, and may also result in investigations by the BCIS or Department of Labor.

DISCLAIMER: The above-mentioned details are for information purpose and cannot be considered as legal advice. They are subject to change or differ as per the changes in Law. SNE does not recommend you to consider this information as a professional advice. For detailed and professional advice you should consult our brokers at 781-932-7355 or visit us at any of our offices at Woburn, Worcester, Stoughton or Boston.
 
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