L-1 Transfer Visa

The L-1 Transfer visa is a visa category for executives, managers and other employees who are being transferred to an office in the US from a related office outside the US. The employee being transferred must have been working for the foreign company for at least one year within the last three years prior to the transfer. In addition, the employee must have worked in an executive, managerial or specialised knowledge position and be destined to be employed in the US in a similar capacity.

There are two sub-categories under the L-1 Transfer category:

  1. L-1A for Executives or Managers. An L-1A Executive or Manager visa holder can have this visa status for up to seven years.
  2. L-1B for those with Specialized Knowledge. Employees who will be working in positions that require specialized knowledge of the company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its application in international markets can have this visa status for up to five years.

Procedures for Applying for the L-1 Transfer Visa

The L-1 Transfer visa is a two-step process. First, the company must file a petition with the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Once the petition is approved the employee may then apply for an L visa at a US Embassy or Consulate outside the United States.

If a company has opened a new US office within the last year, there are additional requirements such as providing evidence of physical office premises and a business plan. An L-1 visa for a new office transfer will generally be issued for only one year initially.

An L-1 Transfer visa petition may be filed with a request for Premium Processing and the petitioner must pay an additional Premium Processing fee in order to guarantee that the petition will be reviewed within 15 days. If the USCIS requests additional documents after the initial review of the petition, then the 15 day processing time will start again once the additional documents are submitted to the USCIS.

L-1 Spouses and Children

Family members including a spouse and any children under the age of 21 may apply for an L-2 visa in order to accompany the L-1 Transfer visa holder to the US.

Spouses of L-1 Transfer visa holders who enter the US on an L-2 visa may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) which will allow him or her to work for any employer in the US. The application for an EAD may only be submitted after entry is made into the US and usually takes several months for the EAD to be issued. Children in L-2 status are not eligible to apply for an EAD.