L visas are used for intra-company transfers, with two different classifications available depending on an employee's role in the company as well as the stated business goals of the company. It can be a complicated process, which is why many companies will turn to an immigration lawyer or attorney to assist them in the application to ensure its success.
What is an L-1A Visa?
The L-1A visa applies to the intra-company transfer of employees who are executives or managers. It can also be used by foreign companies who are seeking to send executives or managers to the US with the express purpose of starting a new branch of their company. Regardless of which purpose the visa is used for, the employer must file a form I-129 to start the application process.
The employer or business must be doing business in another country and either have a subsidiary in the US or looking to open one since the employee will be transferred between the departments. The business must also be deemed as viable, and the applicant who will receive the L-1A visa must have been working for their parent company for at least one year in a managerial or executive capacity. If the intent is to open a new office, they must prove that they have suitable premises available.
If the visa application is successful, an initial stay of one year is granted if the executive or manager is seeking to establish an office in the US. Otherwise, the initial length of stay is three years. L-1A visa holders can, after these initial periods, apply for an extension of their stay in two-year increments for up to a maximum of seven years.
What is an L-1B Visa?
The L-1B visa is for employees with specialized knowledge who wish to transfer to a US office while staying in their current company. They must have had a "qualifying relationship" (that is, a job) with the company for at least one year in the past three years, and must be entering the US with the sole purpose of providing their existing employer with their skills and knowledge. "Specialized knowledge" can include research, product information, services, equipment, and/or other interests and applications. The L-1B visa can also be used to send employees to a new office branch opening in the US, provided that the employer can prove that they have found suitable premises and that the L-1B applicant's skills are essential for opening the new office.
If the application is successful, the L-1B applicant will be allowed to enter the US for an initial period of one year if they are helping to open a new office, or three years if they are transferring for the purpose of providing their skills. They may request further extensions of their visa for up to a maximum period of five years.
Need Further Assistance?
An immigration lawyer can help guide your company through the L visa application process. Entry into the United States for the purposes of business is in high demand and you will need to ensure that the appropriate paperwork to your application is in order and that you have the means to prove that your company is viable and with valid interests. Having an attorney or lawyer assist you in this task will make it easier and will reduce your workload in expanding your business presence within the US market.