The L-1B Visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer professional employees with specialized knowledge 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-1B holder may apply for the L-2 Visa, enabling them to live and work with employment authorization in the United States, provided a set of requirements are met.
For well-established multinational companies which are in need of intra-company transfer of a number of employees to the United States, L-1B Blanket Petition pre-qualifies them to transfer of multiple employees in a single petition with expedited review process, provided the following criterias are met by petitioning companies:
The approval of L-1B Blanket Petition does not guarantee the issuance of L-1B Visa. However, eligible employees may subsequently proceed with their L-1B Visa application without need to separately file individual petition with USCIS.
To qualify for L-1B, the employee must demonstrate that:
The professional employees with specialized knowledge of the business entities’ or procedures 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-1B Visa.
Although the employment need not to be a full-time position, significant time on a regular and systematic basis to the business entity is required. So long as the employment indicates a repetitive, regular and non-occasional pattern and engagement involving certain system, method or plan, the requirement may be established. Direct or indirect employment through an agency or personal service company, provided the business entities possess control over the professional employees, qualifies. If the professional employees 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.
Noted that the business entities here are not limited to commercial corporation, nonprofit, religious or charitable organization are eligible to be the L-1B Visa sponsors. Eligible petitioning business entities as L-1B sponsors must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign business entities and must be doing business. First of all, 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. Second, doing business refers to 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.
The L-1B Visa is designed for professional employees with specialized knowledge to serve corresponding duties for the U.S. business entities. Specialized knowledge refers to knowledge of the business entity’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets that is distinct or uncommon in comparison to that generally found in the particular industry, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s specific processes and procedures that is not commonly found in the relevant industry and is greatly developed or further along in progress, complexity and understanding than that generally found within the employer.
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 appropriate and sufficient space depends on the nature of business and employees required for operation in the coming one year following the L-1B Visa approval. Evidence includes but not limited to the lease agreement, floor plan, location indication, premise title, or photos may sufficiently support.
Eligible petitioning business entities as L-1B sponsors must be doing business. In the event of sending professional employees to build up a new U.S. business entity, doing business standard must be met within one year after L-1B approval and may be supported by evidence such as the tax return, comprehensive business plan containing personnel table and hiring schedule, proof demonstrating capital contribution, bank account, assets possessed, etc. Noted that for import-export business, further documentation would be required.
Except for qualified professional employees with specialized knowledge who enter into the United States to establish a new U.S. affiliate would be allowed an initial one-year period to work, other professional employees with specialized knowledge would be granted an initial three-year period to work for an established U.S. affiliate. Additional extension of up to two years each for a maximum period of five years may be allowed, provided the requirements are continuously met.
The initial validity of L-1B Blanket Petition would usually be granted a three-year period while indefinite number of extension is available. Qualified professional employees with specialized knowledge for L-1B under approved blanket petition must apply for L-1B during the validity of L-1B Blanket Petition while their L-1B Visa’s period of stay may extend beyond the validity of L-1B Blanket Petition.
The spouses and children under the age of 21 of professional employees with specialized knowledge on L-1B Visa may accompany or follow on L-2 Visa with the same validity as the professional employees with specialized knowledge. 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.
L-1B holders may petition for change of status to L-1A status, provided such professional employees with specialized knowledge are promoted to the executive or managerial positions and such petitions are approved prior to six months before the maximum L-1B period of five years expires.
Noted L-1B holders are recommended to file petition for change of status to L-1A status in a timely manner with premium processing in consideration of time limitation. Although L-1B holders with expired validity are eligible to remain in the United States during pending period of petitions for change of status to L-1A status, their remaining will become unlawful once petitions are denied, further jeopardizing their immigration status due to such unlawful presence in the United States.