The L nonimmigrant visa category permits foreign nationals who work for a company with a subsidiary, affiliate, or joint venture partner in the U.S. to come to the U.S. temporarily as intracompany transferees.
The L intracompany transferee nonimmigrant classification enables multinational companies to transfer foreign workers who perform services in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) and workers with specialized knowledge (L-1B).
According to INA Sec. 101(a)(44), the term “managerial capacity” means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
- Manages the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization;
- Supervises and controls the work of other supervisory, professional, or managerial employees, or manages an essential function within the organization, or a department or subdivision of the organization;
- Has the authority to hire and fire or recommend those as well as other personnel actions (such as promotion and leave authorization), if another employee or other employees are directly supervised; or, if no other employee is directly supervised, functions at a senior level within the organizational hierarchy or with respect to the function managed; and
- Exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the employee has authority. A first-line supervisor is not considered to be acting in a managerial capacity merely by virtue of his or her supervisory duties unless the employees supervised are professional. 8 CFR Sec.214.2(l)(1)(ii)(B).
The term “executive capacity” means an assignment within an organization in which the employee primarily:
- Directs the management of the organization or a major component or function of the organization;
- Establishes the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function;
- Exercises wide latitude in discretionary decision-making ; and
- Receives only general supervision or direction from higher-level executives, the board of directors, or stockholders of the organization. 8 CFR Sec. 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(C).
Furthermore, “specialized knowledge” is defined as:
special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures. 8 CFR Sec. 214.2(l)(1)(ii)(D).
In order to be qualified as L-1 classification, the employees must have been employed abroad for the legal entity such as affiliate, corporation or firm on a full time basis for at least one continuous year out of the last three-year period.
The L-1 status will be valid only for the period of the petition’s validity. In general, L-1A classification is valid up to 7 years and L-1B classification for up to 5 years.
L-1 visa petitions are made on a form called I-129, with the “L” Supplement, and are adjudicated at the USCIS service centers. Please note that Canadian citizens may file Form I-129 and L-Supplement in duplicate from their potential U.S. employer directly at a Class A port of entry for admission in L-1 status pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 8 CFR Sec.(214.2(l)(17)(i).
Dependents of L-1 employees including spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are entitled to L-2 status accompanied by the same restrictions as the principal. While possessing L-2 status, dependents may be students in the U.S and L spouses may work pursuant to 8 CFR 274a.12(a)(18).
Along with the L visa petition, extensions for L-1 employees are filed on Form I-129 and Form I-539 for L-2 family members.
L-1 BLANKET PETITION
When companies need to transfer a number of foreign employees on short notice, the L-1 blanket petition provisions permit intracompany transferees to apply for L-1 visas directly at the U.S consular facilities abroad without the prior approval by USCIS of an individual petition. 8 CFR Sec. 214.2(l)(4). To be qualified as a Blanket L-1 petitioner, the petitioner must meet the following requirements:
- The petitioner and each of the qualifying entities are engaged in commercial trade or services;
- The petitioner has an office in the US that has been doing business for one year or more;
- The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
- The petitioner and the other qualifying organization have obtained approval of petitions for at least 10 “L” managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous 12 months; or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees. 8 CFR Sec. 214.2(l)(4)(i).
Petitions for the “blanket L” visa are also made on Form I-129 with the evidence specified in the regulations. 8 CFR Sec. 214.2(l)(4)(iv). Approved L-1 blanket petitioners issue Form I-129S to potential transferees. The employee presents the original and two copies of the completed Form I-129S, along with three copies of Form I-797, Notice of Approval of Blanket L petition approval. 8 CFR Sec.214.2(l)(13)(ii). Eligibility for the transferee to receive the L-1 visa pursuant to the approved blanket petition is then determined by the consular official.
Again, under NAFTA, Canadian citizens may apply directly at a Class A port of entry for L-1 status based on an approved blanket petition, by presenting the same documentation as is required for a consular application. 8 CFR Sec. 214.2(l)(17)(ii).