What Exactly Is The L1-A Intra-Company Transfer Visa?
The L1-A Intra-Company Transfer Visa Explained
The L1-A intra-company transfer visa is a visa that’s reserved for managers, executives or workers with specialized knowledge that are currently working at a foreign company or a foreign enterprise. That foreign enterprise will open a joint venture affiliation, subsidiary, branch of the company in the United States. The visa provides foreign managers, executives or people with special ability to come to work in the foreign enterprise’s offices in the United States. In other words, the worker is given a US-based work assignment from their foreign company and then that worker subsequently transfers positions within the company to reflect their US-based role.
Other Qualifying Factors For The L1-A Visa Approval
The petitioning company needs to show that it has a US-based commercial footprint. The petitioning company will need to show a legal entity formation certificate or other formal documentation showing that the foreign company has US-based operations or will open US-based operations in some capacity. The company will also need to show the candidate for the L1-A visa is an individual that currently has an executive or managerial position and has worked in that enterprise for at least one year during the past three years. The petitioning company will also need to show the proposed work the candidate will be undertake once in the United States. The US work assignment must be executive or managerial in nature. In some instances, the foreign company may transfer a foreign national that has specialized knowledge or ability.
Limits On The Number Of L1 Visas Available Each Year
Unlike other work visas, the L1 category does not have annual visa limits and does not require foreign labor certification. A foreign entity is only required to show some sort of commercial footprint in the United States to be able to transfer qualified employees to the United States. In the event a foreign company is opening substantial operations in the US, the company many file a blanket L1 petition for as many qualified workers as necessary. As long as the L1 requirements are met for each candidate employee, there is no limit on the number of visas available.
A Business Owner’s Ability To Enter The US Using An L1 Visa
A foreign business owner may be able to qualify himself/herself as an L1 candidate if the business owner is coming into the US to work in a managerial or executive capacity. However, the L1 visa is typically reserved for employees of the foreign company. Managers, engineers, directors, and other employees with specialized knowledge are typical candidates for L1 status.
Depending on the size and time a company has been in business, a business owner thinking of opening a new office in the United States might be better suited for an E visa category. However, if the owner can establish the L1 visa requirements for himself/herself, then that foreign business owner can re-categorize their role and enter the US in a L1 executive position. This strategy can be scrutinized by immigration officers. It is always prudent to analyze the pros and cons of L vs E visa categories before deciding what visa category is appropriate given the specific business case for each intending candidate.
The L1 Visa’s Ability To Lead To Permanent Residency Or Green Card
Unlike other work visas, the L1 visa category carries dual intent. Dual intent is an immigration concept that means that a person applying for L1 status may have option of immigrating permanently to the United States if their temporary work assignment merits such designation. Non-immigrant intent means a foreign person is only coming to the United States for a temporary work assignment. Once that temporary work assignment ends, the person will return to live in their foreign country. Immigrant intent, on the other hand, means that a person may have intent of permanently residing in the United States and will not return to live in their foreign country. The L1 visa offers dual intent. For example, an L1-A employee may have an initial US-based assignment for one year and within that one year the company is growing perhaps opening more subsidiaries or outperforming business expectations. The L1 employee and the company may then decide that the employee’s US assignment become permanent in nature. At this point the company may file an employment based residence petition based on employee’s performance and experience in L1 status. The L1 visa can lead to permanent residence, but it doesn’t lead to permanent residence straight away. Eventually, if you can prove business longevity, and can show strong business performance a green card can become available.
For complex visa matters like this, consulting an immigration attorney is always prudent. The application process is very nuanced, and the proper categorization of the proposed role and job duties is vital from the outset. Any miscalculation in these requirements can lead to a denial or rejection of the visa application. Once a person is in L1 status and is thinking about becoming a resident, they must seek legal guidance before going further into the process. Having the right legal advice and guidance during this process can be very valuable to ensuring a successful application.
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