L-1 Visa Summary:

**Please note this is only a summary designed to give you an over view of the L-1 Program. The rules and regulations are extensive and complex and this summary does not encompass all of the rules regulating the program:

The L-1 Visa Program

This program allows for an intra-company transfer of employees of foreign companies to U.S. companies that qualify as a U.S. parent, affiliate or subsidiary of the foreign company. There are two L-1 Program Visas

1)        The L-1A and

2)        The L-1B.

Each of the two programs have the qualifications listed:


  1. Must establish, through documentation that the U.S. Company is a U.S. parent, affiliate or subsidiary to the foreign company.  Each type of company relations has a specific definition under the immigration law.  It is important to consult an immigration attorney prior to setting up any U.S. company intended to sponsor an L-1 Non-Immigrant Visa.
  2. The employee (or owner) being transferred must qualify under U.S. Immigration’s definition as an Executive, Manager or person with specialized knowledge. Each of these categories has very detailed duties.
  3.  The employee or owner to be transferred to the U.S. must have been employed at least one year out of the three years immediately preceding the filing of the L-1 Petition with the foreign company.


L-1A  vs. L-1B:

  1. The L-1 A for managers or executives allows for a streamlined Permanent Residence (Greencard) process.
  2. The L-1A may be held for up to 7 years.  After the 7 year limit is reached the holder must reside overseas for 1 year before being able to apply again for L-1A.  Generally, those seeking to buy or open a qualifying business in the U.S. will be an executive and will be applying for L-1A status.
  3. An L-1A may come to the U.S. to open a new office and/or a new business which has the proper ownership relationship between the new U.S. Company or office and the foreign company.  A new office is considered an office or business that has been doing business through the U.S. Company for less than one year. 

**This is only an outline of the issues involved in the L-1 nonimmigrant visa category.  This document does not address all of the issues or documents involved in a complex employment immigration case. Please feel free make an appointment to discuss further with us the options available to you in your specific case.