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THE L-1 FOR MANAGERS, EXECUTIVES, AND EMPLOYEES WITH “SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE”The L-1 Visa is a flexible nonimmigrant visa that allows multinational companies and those with both U.S. and foreign offices, to send qualified employees from foreign offices, to the United States to live and work in the United States. The employees must be sent to work either at the U.S. branch of the foreign company, or the U.S. based parent or subsidiary of the foreign company. Additionally, the employee must have been employed abroad for the related entity, for one continuous year of the last three years, and the employee must meet one of the following definitions for both the time they worked abroad, and for their future position in the United States:
- L-1A Executives and Managers. The conditions necessary to meet the USCIS definition of “manager” and/or “executive,” are quite stringent. To meet the “executive” definition, the employee must have had the ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight. To meet the definition of “manager,” the employee should have supervised and controlled the work of other professional employees and managed the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. This definition may also be satisfied if the employee managed an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision from others.
- L-1B Employees with Specialized Knowledge. To meet the definition of an employee with “specialized knowledge,” generally the employee must have attained valuable knowledge of the company’s “…product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise…” of the processes and procedures of the company.
The L-1A for Foreign Entrepreneurs:While this visa is often utilized to send qualified employees from abroad to U.S. affiliated branches, parents and subsidiaries, it can also be used by foreign national entrepreneurs to expand their operations into the United States. In doing so and growing their business, these foreign entrepreneurs and their families also gain the opportunity to live and work in the United States as part of that process. And, unlike with other Non-immigrant statuses (such as the Treaty Investment Visas), the L-1A offers a direct path for pursuing an EB-1C Immigrant Visa and a Green Card; in the future, after the U.S. operation has been developed a bit. To qualify for this visa as an entrepreneur however, there are some strict requirements. First, you’ll need to have an existing business in your country that is viable, and that you’ve had for at least a year out of the last three years. This business should be organized in the form of a Corporation ideally, even if you are the sole owner of it. If it is organized as a sole proprietorship, petitioning for this type of visa can unfortunately be much more complicated. Next, depending on how your entity abroad is organized, you may have to document that you have hired ample help and made the proper accommodations to run your foreign office in your absence. Then, in addition to documenting your importance as an owner operator who has performed executive and/or managerial roles; and whom will continue to play a vital role in developing the U.S. operation, you’re going to need to satisfy the following:
- Display that the employer (the abroad entity) has secured sufficient physical space to house the U.S. enterprise; and,
- Show that the intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
As an employer, can I obtain more than one L-1A visa for my employees at the same time?
The short answer to this question is generally no. Unless you are a very large employer, you generally have to file L-1A visa applications for each individual employee that you wish to send to the United States. However, if your company is large and has at least three or more domestic (in the U.S.) and/or foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and, if you have a U.S. office that has been doing business for at least a year, then you may be able to qualify for a blanket petition that would enable you to easily send employees to work for your U.S. office(s). Additionally however, you would need to be able to satisfy at least one of the following three criterias in order to qualify for “blanket L visas:” (1) your organization(s) have had at least 10 L-1 approvals in the last 12-month period; (2) your organization has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates who have combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or, (3) your organization has a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees. Obviously, the majority of companies do not meet these qualifications, but if you as an employer does, we are more than happy to help you put together a “blanket L visa” petition. If you do not however, do not fear and we can also help you accomplish your immigration needs.
If I get an L visa can I bring my family with me when I come to the United States?
Yes you can. If you are approved for an L-1 visa then generally you can bring your spouse and your unmarried children into the United States with you, for the same period of stay that you are granted, as L-2s. Your spouse will also be generally eligible to seek employment while they are in the United States by filing a form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
How much does it cost to apply for an L visa?
The current base fee for applying for an L visa is $460 dollars to USCIS, and this does not include the costs of any legal representation you may enlist, or any supplemental fees associated with each application. For some larger companies that have a lot of U.S.-based L-1 and H-1B visa holding employees, there may be some additional fees due to USCIS.
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Call today for a free consultationThe L-1 process is very complicated, so the best chance of success comes by working with an experienced attorney. We are highly experienced in US Immigration law. Our attorneys, translators and support staff will work with you individually to give you the best chance of success possible. Your immigration status is something you should entrust to a professional. Call the top New York Immigration Attorneys at (888) ZONTLAW / (888) 9668529
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She was perfect! It was such a luck to have Julia Greenberg referred to me by my acquaintance. She is the most caring and helpful attorney I have ever worked with. She is very professional and knowledgeable in the immigration law, and she gave me great advice! I appreciate most that she is always available by phone or returns missed calls shortly – this is something that many attorneys in NYC do not do or have their assistants do who never give the correct answer. I approached Julia to help me prepare for my citizenship interview since I had, frankly speaking, not an easy case, and she did the best job I could expect. I could not imagine how my interview would have gone without her; her support was significant! If I ever have a question about any immigration matter I would definitely ask Julia for help again. Awesome
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