L-1 Intra Company Transfers




An L-1 visa is one that is granted to an alien being transferred by his/her company in a foreign country to the United States. These workers come to the U.S. as intracompany transferees who are coming temporarily to perform services, for a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate of the same company that employed him/her abroad either

  1. in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A); or
  2. which entail specialized knowledge (L-1B)


The purpose of the visa is to facilitate the smooth transfer of senior level executives and managers or persons with specialized skills to companies that may have offices around the world and a presence in the U.S. However, it is also a very useful visa for financially viable businesses in foreign countries that wish to set up an office in the U.S. and require a senior level executive to oversee its operations. The investment required is much less than what would otherwise be required under the investor category, thereby allowing many small companies and even individual investors to benefit from the L category.


The L-1A visa is valid for three years with further two-year extensions given up to a maximum total of seven years.


The L-1B visa is valid for three years with a further two-year extension given up to a maximum total of five years.


The essential requirements for an L-1 visa are:


  1. There must exist, a specific relationship between the company abroad and the company in the U.S. As stated above, this relationship must be in the nature of parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate company.


  1. Both companies must continue to do business and must be financially viable. While there are no actual figures of what would constitute financial viability, each application would be decided with reference to the nature of business and facts of each case. Generally a company with less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than $200,000 may have difficulty obtaining an L-1 approval.


  1. To qualify for an L-1, the employee must have been employed abroad (outside the US) for the corporation, firm, or other legal entity (or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof) on a full-time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three-year period. This year of employment must be wholly outside the U.S. If he has spent any period of time in the U.S. during this period, then an additional and equal period would be added to this one-year requirement.


  1. Further, the alien must have worked in the position of a ‘manager’ or ‘executive’ or in a position involving ’specialized knowledge’, as defined by the regulations, with the foreign company abroad.


  1. The alien must be coming to the U.S. company to fill one of these capacities.


  1. The alien must be qualified for the position by virtue of his/her prior education and experience.


  1. The alien is being temporarily transferred to the U.S.


Like the H-1, the L-1 also allows a person to have what is known as ‘dual intent’. This means that a person may enter the U.S. on a temporary basis and then lawfully apply for permanent residence in the United States. This is most beneficial as with the inclusion of a special category for Multinational Executives and Managers, under the first preference employment based category, an L-1A manager now has a ‘fast track’ route to a green card, with no requirement of going through the lengthy process of labor certification.


When opening a new office in the U.S., USCIS gives considerable flexibility to the new U.S. company in terms of its financial viability at the time of making the application for the L-1 visa. However, the new U.S. office must have substantial premises from which it will operate and should submit a detailed business plan of its proposed operations as well as an organizational chart with details of the number of employees the company proposes to employ. When opening a new office in the U.S., the initial L-1 is granted for a period of only one-year. At the time of making the application, for a further two-year extension, the U.S. company must be able to establish that it can support the executive or managerial position and that the company is financially viable. In other words, the L-1 visa holder and the newly established U.S. operation are given one year from the date of the initial approval in which to prove its financial viability.


Click here for a detailed list of documents that require to be submitted to meet with these essential requirements.


L-2 Visa

An L-2 visa is granted to the spouse and minor children of the L-1 applicant. Spouses of L visa holders are permitted to work in the US, unlike the spouse of an H-1B visa holder. Children, however, may not work, but may continue their studies.


Related Links


  1. L-1 Blanket Petition
  2. Documents Required for an L-1 Visa
  3. Bill To Allow ‘L’ And ‘E’ Dependents To Work
  4. Interpretation of Special Knowledge Memorandum

The information in this article is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship between Jethmalani & Nallaseth PLLC and the viewer.