The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with fee, on behalf of the employee.
The following information describes some of the features and requirements of the L-1 nonimmigrant visa program.
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
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.
To qualify, the named employee must also:
Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.
Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for complete definitions.
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(3)(v) for details.
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.
The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.
If these family members are already in the United States and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply collectively, with fee, on an Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.
Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.
From April 30, 2018, to April 30, 2019, the California Service Center and the CBP Blaine, Washington, port of entry (POE) are participating in a joint agency pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For additional information, please visit the Form I-129/I-129S Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Nonimmigrants.
Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket petition. Eligibility for blanket L certification may be established if:
The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted L-1A classification. It does, however, provide the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS.
In most cases, once the blanket petition has been approved, the employer need only complete Form, I-129S,Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, and send it to the employee along with a copy of the blanket petition Approval Notice and other required evidence, so that the employee may present it to a consular officer in connection with an application for an L-1 visa.
Canadian citizens, who are exempt from the L-1 visa requirement, may present the completed Form I-129S and supporting documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at certain ports-of-entry on the United States-Canada land border or at a United States pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station in Canada, in connection with an application for admission to the United States in L-1 status.
Please refer to CBP’s website for additional information and/or requirements for applying for admission into the United States.
If the prospective L-1 employee is visa-exempt, the employer may file the Form I-129S and supporting documentation with the USCIS Service Center that approved the blanket petition, instead of submitting the form and supporting documentation directly with CBP.
See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(4) and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(5) for more details regarding blanket petitions.
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