L-1 Transfer Visa

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

There are two sub-categories under the L-1 Transfer visa 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. An L-1B visa holder may hold this visa status for up to five years.

Procedures for Applying for the L-1 Transfer Visa

There is a two-step process involved with obtaining an L-1 Transfer visa. First, the company must petition for the employee by filing a petition to the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Once the petition is approved the employee may then apply for L visas at a US Embassy or Consulate outside the US.

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. Also, an L-1 visa for a new office transfer will generally be issued for 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 who wish to accompany the L-1 Transfer visa holder may apply for an L-2 visa.

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 the spouse 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 about 90 days for the issuance of the EAD. L-2 Children are not eligible to apply for an EAD.