L-1 Work Visas for New Business and Employee Transfers

L-1 Work Visas for New Business and Employee Transfers

The L-1 work visa is an employer-specific, employment-authorized nonimmigrant status available to a foreign national employed abroad who seeks admission into the United States to work for a qualifying affiliate U.S. employer in either managerial/executive capacity (L-1A) or specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B). The L-1 foreign national is called an “intracompany transferee.”

For Canadians, obtaining L-1 nonimmigrant status requires filing a petition in person with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Decisions are made and the L-1 visa is issued same day at the border.

L-1 status is generally approved for an initial period of three years. However, if the U.S. employer is a start-up company, L-1 status is originally granted for only one year. The L-1A (manager/executive) can be extended up to a statutory limit of seven years; the L-1B (specialized knowledge) is limited to a total of five years. The employer is not obligated to retain the employee for the entire five- or seven-year period. Unless the parties contract otherwise, the employment relationship is “at will” and either party is free to terminate the relationship at any time. However, if the employee/employer relationship endures for the entire five-year or seven-year period, the foreign national must spend one year physically outside of the United States before regaining eligibility to apply for a new period of L-1 status.

Qualified L-1A workers are able to transition from the L-1 status to U.S. Permanent Resident Status (Green Card). We often help business owners expand their operations into the United States and after substantial business growth, obtain a green card. The L-1A to green card process is only of the most beneficial under U.S. Immigration Law.

Dependent family members (spouse and minor children) of an L-1 nonimmigrant are eligible to apply for L-2 derivative status. Spouses in L-2 status may apply for employment authorization after obtaining the L-2 status. Applications are processed in approximately 90 days. Children and spouses in L-2 status may also attend U.S. schools without changing to student status although a student in the derivative L status will not be granted practical training opportunities.


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