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L1 Visa, Intra-company Transferee Visa

Overview: L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employee from its foreign operations to the US operations for up to seven years. The international company must have offices in both home country and the United States, or intend to open a new office in the United States while maintaining office in their home country.

Before applying for a visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad, USCIS must approve a Form I-129 petition, filed by the U.S. employer. Labor Certification is not required.

Family: Spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of ageof L1 visa holders could apply for L-2 Visa which allow the spouse to work without restriction in United States.

Period of Stay: initial stay of three years, request extension of 2 year, up to seven years

Green Card intent: Permitted. Under the doctrine of dual intent, L1 visa holder may legally apply for green card

Policy Change: On March 24, 2015, White House released a draft of L-1B Visa Policy Memorandum which will make it easier for the employers to get L-1 visa for its employees. The new policy completed its feedback period on May 8 and will become effective on August 31.

According to US State Department, between 2009 and 2013, an average of 67,855 L-1 visas were issued per year.

According to the National Foundation for America Policy, the denial rate for L-1B petitions to transfer employees of Indian origin is a remarkable 56 percent for FY 2012 through FY 2014, compared to an average denial rate of 13 percent to transfer employees from all other countries during the same period. Only 4 percent of Canadian nationals were denied L-1B petitions, compared to 56 percent of Indian nationals, between FY 2012 and FY 2014.

In fiscal year 2010, USCIS received 91,086 applications for L1 visa, approved 74,719 of them, and denied 16,367. waived or overcome 9,814. USCIS also received 79,093 applications for L2 visa, approved 69,233, refused 9,826, waived or overcome 8,002.

Visa Type:
  • L-1A Visa for Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
  • L-1B Visa for Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
  • L-2 Visa for spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.

Employer Qualification
  1. Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations)
  2. Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.
  3. Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
  4. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Employee Qualification
  1. Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States;
  2. Be seeking to enter the United States to render services in a specialized knowledge capacity to a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.

Blanket Petitions
Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket petition. In order to establish eligibility for blanket L certification, the employer
  1. And each of the qualifying organizations must be engaged in commercial trade or services
  2. Must have an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more
  3. Must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates
  4. Must meet one of the following criteria
    • Along with the other qualifying organizations, have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period; or
    • Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25,000,000; or
    • Have a U.S. work force of no less than one thousand employees.

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