The L1 Visa can be used by foreign companies to transfer an executive, manager, or specialized employee to a U.S.-based branch, affiliate or subsidiary company.
To accomplish the transfer of personnel, both the U.S. and foreign company must be owned by the same group of people in approximately the same proportions.
The other main requirement for the L-1 Visa is that the beneficiary must have been employed by the foreign company for at least 1 of the 3 years preceding the Visa petition.
There are 2 types of intra-company transferee Visas: The L-1A and the L1B.
The L1A is for managers or executives. It is granted for a maximum period of 7 years, and creates a direct path to permanent resident status (Green Card). The L1A to Green Card process can be very lengthy and complicated, since premium processing is not offered and USCIS issues a request for evidence in most cases. On the other hand, the EB1c classification is very desirable, because it does not require the employer to go through the PERM process, and does not require the beneficiary to have any particular academic or professional qualification.
The L1B is for specialized employees. It is granted for a maximum period of 5 years. Over 70% of the L1B cases receive a Request For Evidence, and many are denied. USCIS has recently tighten the requirements to obtain the L1B Visa.