Intracompany transferee visas come in two classifications: L-1A and L-1B. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), L -1A classification allows United States employers to transfer an executive or executive manager from an office in another country to a U.S. Location. L-1B classification allows a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee possessing specialized knowledge relating to the company or organization’s interest.
There are a variety of requirements that employers and employees must meet in order to obtain an L1-A visa. In order to qualify for L-1 classification, the USCIS states that employers must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. “Qualifying relationship” can refer to a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate). The employer must also be doing business as an employer in the United States and in (at least) one other country through a qualifying organization.
In order for an employee to qualify, USCIS requires that he/she must have worked abroad for a qualifying organization for one, continuous year before applying for the visa. “Doing business” refers to regular, systematic, and continuous interactions with a qualifying organization. This includes providing goods and/or services for another organization. The presence of an office or agent in the qualifying organization does not constitute “business.” Interaction is necessary.
The employee must have worked for the qualifying organization (generally) one year within the past three years before applying for an L-1A visa. Also, the employee must enter the United States with the intention to give executive or managerial services to a branch of the same employer as the qualifying organization that he/she came from. “Executive capacity” refers to the employee’s ability to make large-scale decisions or manage portions of the company with very little or no oversight.
L-1A qualifications and L-1B qualifications share many similarities. In order to obtain an L-1B classification visa, the employer must – like an L-1A classification – have a qualifying relationship with a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate. Also, the employer must do business (now or in the future) as an employer in the U.S. in at least one other country. This business must be conducted directly through a qualifying organization. Similarly, the USCIS states that the employee must have been generally working for a qualifying organization for one year prior to obtaining the L-1A visa.
“Specialized knowledge” refers to special knowledge possessed by the employee related to the organization or company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests. Specialized knowledge cannot be common knowledge – it must be beyond the understanding of other people and typical employees. The employee must be more than skilled, familiar, or comfortable with the employer’s work and interests.
If you have obtained an L-1 visa, your family may be allowed to accompany you for the endurance of your stay in the United States. Qualified employees who come to the United States to establish a new office are allowed to stay for one year; other employees may stay for three years. You may request an extension if you want to remain longer in increments of no more than two years. Extensions will not be granted after five years. Therefore, you should not wait to align yourself with a business immigration lawyer in New York when considering L-1B visa.
Your family (spouse and children) may accompany you while you work in the U.S. by obtaining L-2 status. The USCIS defines your children as unmarried and under the age of 21. Typically, your family will be granted admission into the United States for the same amount of time as you. If your family is already in the U.S. and wants to change their status in L-2 classification, they may file Form I-765. There is a fee attached to this form but there are no specific restrictions as to where your spouse may work if he/she qualifies for L-2 classification.