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How to apply for an L-1A or L-1B Visa for the United States

On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the L-1A and L-1B visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers and solicitors in London, on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

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With the world’s largest economy, which is estimated to reach over $25 trillion in 2024, many international businesses have a presence in the United States or intend to establish one. Global workforce mobility is now vital for multinational organisations, as this allows them to redeploy experienced and specialist staff members to work for a branch or subsidiary of the same business in another country for a temporary period. This is referred to as intra-company transfer. On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the L-1 intra-company transfer visa scheme in the United States, the eligibility criteria which must be met, and the application process.

What is the L-1 visa for the United States?

The L-1 Intra-company transfer (ICT) visa is intended for international executives, managers, and employees with specialist knowledge who work for an overseas employer, allowing them to be deployed to work for the same organisation in the United States (US). L-1 visas are extremely popular with multinational organisations with a presence in the US. Intra-company visas allow organisations to benefit from existing skills and experience without the need to hire new staff in another jurisdiction (i.e., the US). ICT visas are widely used to enable staff members from one country to provide specialist training, introduce new products, oversee the development of new manufacturing facilities, and for many other purposes.

What is the difference between the L-1A and L-1B visas?

The L1-A visa is for the intra-company transfer of executives or managers, whereas the L1-B visa is intended for those with specialist knowledge.

Am I eligible for an L-1A visa for the United States?

To qualify for an L1-A visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have been working for a qualifying organisation abroad for at least one year in the last three years
  • Intend to work in the US in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch or subsidiary of the same organisation.

Executive capacity in this sense means that the applicant has the ability to make decisions on a wide range of company matters without “much oversight”.

Managerial capacity means that the applicant is able to supervise and control the work of other employees and to manage part of the business.

Where the employee is being sent to the US to set up a new office, they will need to provide evidence to USCIS that the employer has already secured premises for this purpose.

Am I eligible for an L-1B visa for the United States?

When it comes to the L1-B visa, USCIS will want to see that the applicant has been with the overseas organisation for at least one year within the last three years and that they will be providing services in relation to their specialist knowledge to a branch or subsidiary of the same organisation.

Specialized knowledge in this sense means that the applicant has either:

  • special knowledge of the organisation’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or;
  • an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organisation’s processes and procedures

How do I apply for an L-1 visa?

A Form I-129 (petition for a non-immigrant worker) first needs to be filed by the US employer and the appropriate fee paid.

Depending on the situation, a qualifying employer can file multiple L-1 intra-company transfer petitions for the same project.

In addition, an employer may choose to file a blanket petition to establish the required intra-company relationship before the L-1 ICT petition is filed. The USCIS states that a blanket petition can be filed if:

  • “The petitioner and each of the qualifying organisations are engaged in commercial trade or services;
  • The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
  • The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
  • The petitioner along with the other qualifying organisations meet one of the following criteria:
  • Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
  • Has US subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
  • Have a US workforce of at least 1,000 employees.”

If the blanket petition is then approved by USCIS, the employer then only needs to complete and file Form, I-129S, Non-immigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition.

How long are L-1 visas granted for?

ICT transferees who intend to set up a new office in the US will generally receive a visa with a maximum initial stay of one year. All other ICT transferees can expect to receive a visa which permits them to stay for up to three years. This can be further extended in increments of two years to a maximum of five years overall.

Can my family join me in the US if I hold an L-1 visa?

Yes, if you have a spouse or children under the age of 21, they will be able to apply for an L-2 visa. If granted, the period of validity will match that of the L-1 visa.

Where your family members are already located in the United States, they can change their immigration status to an L-2 classification, and they may apply together using Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Status.

In terms of employment, a spouse of an L-1 worker may be able to work if they apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and pay the required application fee. If granted an L-2 visa, your family member will be able to work in the US without restriction.

Reiss Edwards has the resources and expertise to assist with all aspects of US immigration. If you need assistance with your L-1A or L-1B visa application for the US or any other immigration matter, contact our US Immigration solicitors on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

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Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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