L-1 Visas

What is an L-1 Visa?

This category was created by Congress in 1970. L1 Visas are designed for intra-company executive transferees to come and work in the United States. A regular rotation of key personnel will improve and ensure the uniformity of service and procedure within the company at a global level.

Such employees should have been employed outside of the US for at least one of the prior three years. The foreign company must have a US affiliate, who will petition for the transfer of the employee through L-! Status. Consequent to Immigration Act of 1990, L visa holders no longer have to prove their non-immigrant intent, which made it easier to have the transition of an L visa holder to ‘green card’ holder status.

L-1A visas are designed for intra-company executive transferees to come and work in the United States. The L-1A visa holders must been employed in an executive or managerial capacity with the foreign company in an overseas location for at lest one continuous year out of the past three years.

L-1B category covers specialized knowledge personnel. For example, someone who has very specialized knowledge of a product could visit US on an L-1B visa. The petitioning company sponsors the employee for an L-1 visa for temporary employment in the US, but the employee’s spouse and dependent minors will receive an L-2 visa.

It is also possible for an Inc. to be established soon to sponsor L-1 visas. However, they should file evidence with the petition that:

  • Sufficient premises to house the new office have been secured;
  • The beneficiary has, or upon establishment will have, the qualifying relationship to the foreign employer and the qualifying position; and
  • The intended US operation will be able to support the executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

No extensive documentation is necessary especially when the employer is well known and well established. However, when the company is small or just starting-up, extensive and detailed documentation to establish the eligibility for L visa may have to be submitted. Professional service from an experienced immigration attorney may be essential.

Advantages of L Visa

  • Processing time is low – in 30-60 days, the visa is granted.
  • There is no upper limit under this category.
  • Initially granted for three years, with two possible two-year extensions.
  • Intra-company transfers are permitted.
  • Spouse and children (up to the age of 21 years) can be taken along.
  • Spouse can get work authorization in both categories -- Individual or Blanket L petitions.
  • In limited circumstances conversion to Permanent Residence is possible.
  • Though E visa can be obtained by international companies, there should be a treaty between US and that particular country.
  • Many countries do not have such treaties.
  • L visa holders do not have to maintain a foreign residence during their US stay and they may seek permanent residence and still maintain L status.


  • Unless converted to Permanent Residence, they are restricted to seven years.
  • New employees cannot be transferred to US until they complete one year.
  • Children, though can study in US, cannot get work authorization.
  • L-1 visa holders may remain only as long as the US Company qualifies as the same company or subsidiary or affiliate status with the foreign company.
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