L-1 Visas for Managers and Executives
Question 1: What is an L-1A?
Some managers and Executives of companies based outside the United States may obtain work permits (referred to as “L-1A” visas) and/or U.S. permanent resident status if they are transferred by their foreign company to an affiliated office in the United States.
Question 2: What are the requirements of L-1A?
The threshold requirement for eligibility for this classification is that the manager be employed outside the U.S. by the sponsoring foreign company or an affiliate, for at least one of the last three years (or the last 3 years before entry into the U.S., if he’s here already) primarily in a managerial capacity/or executive capacity and that his duties have included at least one of the following:
- Managing other managers;
- Managing professionals;
- Managing an “essential function” of the company.
Next, his employer must have an affiliate office in the United States. Further, the foreign company must remain active and employing workers for all times in which the manager will be in the U.S. on a temporary work permit.
Question 3: One of the requirement is that his employer must have an affiliate office in the U.S. What is an “affiliate” office in the U.S.?
An affiliated company is a company whose relationship to the foreign company is one of the following:
- A subsidiary (majority owned by the foreign company);
- An affiliate (majority owned by the same person who owns a majority of the foreign company, or owned by the same group of people in almost exactly same proportions);
- A parent (the U.S. company owns a majority of the foreign company); or
- A joint venture (the foreign company owns half of the U.S. company, and has veto power over any of its decisions).
Question 4: How long is the L-1A effective for?
A manager may be approved for L-1A classification for 3 years at a time, up to a maximum of 7 years.
Question 5: What if a foreign company is setting up a new office in the U.S. Can the foreign company petition for a L-1A manager?
Yes, this is the “new office” exception. If the foreign company does not now have an affiliate office in the U.S., it may send the manager to the U.S. for the purpose of establishing such an office. Under these circumstances it does not have to show that the manager will be employed primarily in a managerial capacity and performing a required function immediately, but rather that he will be doing so within one year of entry into the U.S. To qualify under this “new office” exception, the company must show that:
- It has leased or purchased an appropriate office in the U.S.
- It has a business plan which will result in the manager performing one of the above mentioned three functions within one year of his admission to the U.S.; and
- The company has deposited enough money in a U.S. bank to pay the manager an appropriate salary and to implement its business plan.
If approved under the new office exception the manager will be admitted to the U.S. for one year. His L1A status will be extended only if it can be demonstrated that he is performing one of the required functions at the time of the extension.
Question 6: Can the U.S. affiliate also petition a manager for permanent residency status?
Yes. If the U.S. affiliate has been actively engaged in business for at least one year, it may apply for permanent residence for a qualifying manager. The criteria for permanent residence for a manager is basically the same as the criteria for the L1A except there is no “new office” exception.
How we can help
Our office will provide you with an individualized assessment of the employee and employer’s qualifications to determine what visa is the best fit for your particular situation. Because of our many years of experience with these types of cases, our firm is confident that we can guide you and effectively represent you with filing an approvable L-1 visa application. Our office ensures that our clients’ applications are in line with USCIS’s most recent requirements, policy memos and regulations. When you work with our office, we make certain that we provide you with detailed responses to all of your questions and concerns. We will maintain constant communication with you and provide you with the care and professionalism your case deserves.