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The United States L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa allowing companies operating both in the USA and abroad and involved in transnational matters to transfer certain classes of employees from its foreign company to an American subsidiary or branch.
The L-1 employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of U.S. Company outside of the U.S for at least one continuous year out of the last three years.
The L-1 classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. Office to send an employee to the United States to help establish one, with additional requirements.
Employees will, initially, be granted an L-1 visa for up to three years.
Spouses of L-1 visa holders are allowed to work without restriction in the US (using on L-2 visa).Children of the applicant who are under the age of 21 may be issued the L-2 visa.
There are two types of employees who may be sponsored for USA L-1 visa:
• managers/executives and
• employees with specialized knowledge.
The executive or manager should have supervisory responsibility of professional staff, and have a key function of a department or subdivision of the company. Such personnel are issued an L-1A visa, initially for a three year period. A Visa extension can be granted in two increments to a maximum of seven years.
The second category, specialized knowledge staff, covers those with knowledge of the company’s products/services, research, system, proprietary techniques, management, or procedures.
Staff in this category is issued an L-1B visa, initially for three years.
An L-1B Visa extension can only be granted in increments for another 2 years.
After the expiration of the seven or five years period, the foreign national can generally only qualify for L-1 status again by working abroad for at least one year for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office of the U.S. Company, unless an EB1 Green Card petition is filed by the Company.
The petition for an L-1 visa begins with the filing of form I- 129 along with USCIS, along with supporting documentation showing that both U.S. Company and the foreign parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch meet the qualifying factors set forth in the law and regulations.
Applicants who are in the United States at the time of the filing of the I-129 can request a change of status from their present non-immigrant status ( visitor, student, etc), so long as they are in status at the time of the filing of the I-129.