As today’s economy becomes more and more global, multinational companies are now sending many of their top-performing employees around the world. This practice of transferring employees overseas is becoming more and more common, so USCIS has adapted to allow this transfer to be more accessible.
The L-1 Visa program was specifically designed for multinational companies where companies based in the United States would need to sponsor foreign employees to their United States location.
These employees are typically in the executive or managerial level, where their expertise is often used without oversight. In other words, these are skilled workers who come to the United States often to help their company establish a new branch in an unfamiliar location.
For companies looking to sponsor/interested applicants looking to be sponsored, there are many qualifications that USCIS outlines. These qualifications are different and unique for both the employee and the U.S. employer.
For U.S. employers, below is a partial list of the general qualifications that USCIS expects to see:
- The U.S. employer has a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. These foreign companies may be a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate. These are some examples of a “qualifying relationship”
- The company is currently, or will be, “doing business” as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country. For the duration of the beneficiary’s U.S. residence, the foreign organization must be proven to be relevant.
The aforementioned is only a summarized list of prerequisites that must be fulfilled by the U.S. employer. If you think your company may qualify for the L-1 program, then it is advised that you consult a legal expert before proceeding.
For the main beneficiary (employees) of the L-1 visas, USCIS expects to see:
- Employee has been working at one of the qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States. In other words, if you have worked at your company for one continuous year during the 3-year period before your application, you qualify.
- The employee must be entering the United States to provide a service to the U.S. branch at an executive or managerial level. Essentially, the job you are taking in the United States must be of that degree or higher to be considered as an L-1 qualified applicant.
When it comes to the requirements for employees, the definition of “executive and managerial” roles need to be properly defined by the USCIS.
USCIS defines “executive” roles as positions in the company where the person’s contributions do not require much oversight. In other words, the decisions you make at your work does not require supervisors or other managerial presence.
For “managerial” roles, USCIS often looks at how the employee supervises and controls the work of other professional employees. Additionally, consular officers will evaluate how the applicant’s work is relevant to the organization, department, or function in order to reach a final decision.
Besides fulfilling USCIS’ special definition of managerial and executive roles, additional rules are added for circumstances involving new offices or locations.
When an L-1 Visa applicant is applying to come to the United States to oversee the development of a company’s new location, USCIS expects extra documents to be provided.
- The employer of the new office can demonstrate than a sufficient physical premises for the new office has been secured.
- The applicant (employee) has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition.
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition. In other words, the new location must have a managerial/executive job position within the one year the L-1 petition is approved.
Ultimately, the L-1 Visa program is a great opportunity for the right employer and employee. As companies begin to expand around the world, this immigration opportunity can benefit all parties. If you are an employer/employee interested in learning more about the L-1 Visa process, seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice.
For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ms. Ramona Kennedy received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
She is licensed to practice in the United States Supreme Court, US Immigration Courts, California Federal Courts of Southern & Central District & All California Courts. Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing).
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