L1 Visas: Everything You Need to Know About the L1A Visa
However, eligibility requirements are strict, and the documentation required to submit the petition and get approval is extensive unless applicants have a Blanket L.
Therefore, employers or business owners planning to transfer foreign executives or managers should know all the critical aspects of this visa.
What Is an L1A Visa?
Essentially, the L1A visa is a nonimmigrant visa for intracompany transferees. This visa allows US employers to bring in foreign workers to establish a new branch, parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate.
Companies can use L1A visas to transfer foreign employees to the US. However, those entering the country must work in a managerial or executive capacity for the same employer or an affiliated organization.
Establishing that a foreign employee is coming to work in a “managerial or executive capacity” can be tricky. Hopefully, once you read this article, you will have better understood the requirements for this visa.
If an employer plans to establish a new branch office, they can use the L1A visa to transfer a manager or executive to the country if they have secured sufficient physical premises.
On the other hand, foreign employees who only visit the US for meetings, training, or conferences do not need to secure an L-1A visa. An L-1B may be more suitable for these foreign employees. However, holders may split their working time between US-based offices and international branches.
The L1 visa is available for multinational companies and start-ups, and smaller businesses use it to expand their operations within the country so long as there is a qualifying relation between the transferee’s foreign employer company and the U.S.A. company.
L1A Visa Duration
Most L1A visa holders obtain this document for an initial three-year period. However, they can request a two-year extension, up to seven years, if their employer continues to operate as a multinational organization.
This period may vary for new branches. The L1A visa is often granted for one year in these cases.
L1A visa holders should apply for US permanent residency as soon as possible. Otherwise, they must leave the country after the allowable period expires for at least one year before applying for a new L1 or H status.
Benefits for L-1A Visa Holders
- Permission to work and live within the U.S. for the petitioning company
- Authorization to travel within the U.S.
- Travel permit to the US for dependents
- Opportunity to apply for permanent residency
Spouses of L1A visa holders can apply for an employment authorization document to work within the US.
In addition, an L1A visa may allow a foreign company to establish a branch within the country.
Can Any Foreign Executive or Manager Apply for This Visa?
The company applying for an L1A visa must prove that the foreign employee will enter the US to serve in a managerial or executive position. The USCIS requires that proposed duties be listed with the percentage of time dedicated to each. Failing to adhere to these requirements may render the foreign worker ineligible. Therefore, let’s look into each capacity to gain more clarity.
Executive Capacity – Key Responsibilities
These are the key responsibilities of a worker in an executive position:
- Daily management
- Establishing an organization’s goals and policies
- Determining an organization’s procedures
- Receiving general direction from the board of directors, high-level executives, or stockholders
Managerial Capacity – Key Responsibilities
These are the key responsibilities of a worker in a managerial position:
- Directing daily operations
- Managing the organization or a specific department, subdivision, or function
- Supervising and controlling work done by employees in a professional, supervisory, or managerial role
- Hiring, firing, and making staff recommendations
It is important to understand that the above lists are not exhaustive. Also, key responsibilities are expressed in general terms. Each role must be tailored to the specific job, by percentage of time, and in relation to other staff members and their positions.
L1A Visa Requirements and Eligibility
Both petitioning US-based employers and foreign employees must meet the following requirements to apply for an L1A visa:
- They should work with the organization abroad for at least one continuous year within three years before traveling to the US.
- They should work in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity for the same branch of a company or employer.
Besides the previous requirements, qualifying organizations must demonstrate the following:
- They have a relationship with a subsidiary, branch, affiliate, or parent company.
- They operate or will be doing business as employers in the US and at least another country during the period that L1A visa holders will remain within the country.
US employers planning to transfer foreign workers to establish new offices within the country must also meet the following requirements:
- Evidence that the company has secured sufficient physical premises to establish the new office.
- Evidence that the employee has worked for the same parent company, organization, or branch in a managerial or executive capacity for a year within the three-year period before filing the petition.
- Evidence that the US affiliate or branch office will support the foreign worker within one year of the L1A visa approval.
- A business plan may help establish the foreign company’s expansion to the U.S. and support the transfer, especially in the case of new offices.
Should Petitioning Employers Complete the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker?
After establishing that the petitioning company and the foreign executive or manager qualify for the L1A visa, the employer must complete Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
Qualifying employers can also make the Blanket petition to obtain a Blanket L1 Visa, which allows US-based companies to transfer employees to the country on short notice.
The L-1A Visa Application Process
- The employer completes and submits Form I-129 and pays the filing fees.
- The organization or business obtains the Form I-129 receipt number printed on their petition.
- The employee uses that information to complete Form DS-160 online.
- The applicant must schedule a consular appointment for their visa interview.
- The foreign worker must attend the visa interview and bring all the documents required for the application.
If the petition is approved, the applicant’s passport is returned via a courier service to the visa collection or passport location defined when making the appointment.
Visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information on the L-1A visa and the application process.
Do You Need Help Applying for an L1A Visa?
Fortunately, you can find them at #LiveintheUS. Our team’s seasoned and passionate immigration attorneys are ready to help foreign employees obtain employment visas and live in the US. Contact us today!