The L-1A Visa allows a U.S. employer to relocate executives and managers from a foreign international business entity’s affiliated foreign offices to its U.S. office for work or to establish a new U.S. office if the foreign international company does not yet have one in the United States. The spouse and children under age of 21 of the L-1A holder may be granted the L-2 Visa, allowing them to live and work with employment authorization in the United States according to a series of requirements. Being considered to be a dual intent visa, L-1A holders is entitled to pursue lawful permanent residence during L-1A valid period. Organizations other than for-profit international companies may sponsor the L-1A petition.
For well-established multinational companies which are in need of intra-company transfer of a number of employees to the United States, L-1A Blanket Petition allows the transfer of multiple employees in a single petition with expedited review process, provided petitioning companies meet the following requirements:
Once the L-1A Blanket Petition is approved, eligible employees may subsequently proceed with their L-1A Visa application without need to separately file individual petition with USCIS.
To qualify for L-1A, the employee must demonstrate that:
The executives or managers who have continuously worked for a business entity abroad for at least one year in the past three years with the purpose of intra-company transfer to the U.S. affiliate or to establish a new U.S. affiliate may qualify for the L-1A Visa. The employment must be a full-time position, or part-time position worked for several foreign affiliates which has total equal employment time as a full-time position. Also, direct or indirect employment through an agency or personal service company qualifies. If the executives or managers have been admitted to the United States under other valid work visa, the one year requirement must be met in the past three years prior to their entry into the United States.
The business entities here are not limited to commercial corporation, nonprofit, religious or charitable organization are eligible to be the L-1A Visa sponsors. More importantly, the foreign business entity and the U.S. petitioning business entity must have a qualifying relationship. Business entities with certain relationship of ownership and control existed between would be considered having a qualifying relationship, including a parent company, a subsidiary, a branch, or an affiliate. Ownership refers to the legal right of possession with full power and authority to control, while control means the right and authority to direct the management and operations of the business entity.
The L-1A Visa is designed for employees with executive or managerial capacities. To determine employees’ capacities, their comprehensive job duties should be reviewed pursuant to the following standards:
First of all, the executive capacity stands for the ability of the employee to primarily (i) directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization, (ii) establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function, (iii) exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making, or (iv) receives only general supervision or direction from higher level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization. The employees with executive capacity may make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. Noted that employees who directly perform a function in the organization without subordinate staffs would more likely be deemed as staff officers, specialists, or employees with specialized knowledge rather than executives and thus not qualify for L-1A.
On the other hand, managerial capacity generally is defined to the ability of the employee to primarily (i) manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization, (ii) supervises and controls the work of other professional employees, (iii) manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others, (iv) possesses the authority to make personnel actions or functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed, or (v) exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function. Both personnel manager, who primarily supervise and control the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, and function managers, who primarily manage an “essential function” within the organization, qualify for the L-1A Visa.
In case of transfer on the purpose of establishing a new U.S. business entity, the employee must demonstrate that:
The petitioning business entity must prove the secured sufficient physical premises to house and operate the new business entity. The competent authorities take the type of business and number of employees hired or to be hired in the coming one year following the L-1A Visa approval into consideration to determine whether the premises are large enough for accommodation. If the new U.S. business entity involves manufacturing, information concerning the factory and inventory must also be shown. Evidence includes but not limited to the lease agreement, floor plan, location indication, premise title, or photos may sufficiently support.
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. Prior to the active operation, the L-1A applicants may present the tax return, comprehensive business plan containing personnel table and hiring schedule, proof demonstrating capital contribution, bank account, assets possessed, etc., to support the petition. Noted that for import-export business, further documentation would be required.
Qualified executives and managers would be admitted for an initial three-year period to work for an established U.S. affiliate or an initial one-year period to establish a new U.S. affiliate with extension of up to two years each for a maximum period of seven years, provided the requirements are continuously met.
The initial validity of L-1A Blanket Petition would usually be granted a three-year period while indefinite number of extension is available. Qualified executives and managers for L-1A under approved blanket petition must apply for L-1A during the validity of L-1A Blanket Petition while their L-1A Visa’s period of stay may extend beyond the validity of L-1A Blanket Petition.
The executives or managers who have been granted the L-1A Visa may be accompanied or followed by their spouses and children under the age of 21 and the derivative L-2 visa of the same period of stay as the executives or managers would be granted therefore. Besides that, spouses may further apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765. Once approved, they are allowed to pursue work of any kind and anywhere without specific restriction.