Overview of the L-1A Visa

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Understanding the L-1A Visa

The L-1A visa is an intracompany nonimmigrant classification that allows a foreign company to transfer qualified executives and managers to their U.S. affiliate, parent, subsidiary or branch.

The L-1A visa application process initially requires the U.S. entity to submit a comprehensive petition detailing the transfer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Essentially, this visa classification facilitates multinational companies in transferring foreign executives and managers to their U.S.-based entities

L-1A Considerations

There are a number of considerations that must be taken into account when analyzing the possibility of an L-1A:

  1. The U.S. employer must have an established, qualifying, and pre-existing relationship with a foreign company.  The U.S. employer must a subsidiary, parent, branch or affiliate of the foreign employer.
  2. The foreign entity and U.S. entity must conduct business during the entire time period associated with the transfer of the manager or executive.
  3. For each qualifying employee, there must be a separate L-1A petition, unless there is a blanket L-1A petition being submitted for approval.

Additionally, the prospective L-1A executive/manager must meet certain qualifications:

  1. S/he must have been employed by the qualifying foreign company for at least one year within the previous three years prior to being admitted to the U.S.
  2. S/he must be entering the U.S. as an executive or manager for a subsidiary, parent, branch or affiliate of the foreign employer.

An executive is an employee who has wide-ranging and far-reaching decision making powers with little to no supervision.

Executives establish policies and goals; manage the organization or a major function or component; have discretionary decision making ability; and only receive general supervision or direction from higher level executives. And a manager is generally regarded as an employee who supervises and controls the work and labor of other employees, and/or manages a key component or division of an organization.

Managers control and supervise the work of other professional, supervisory, or managerial employees, or manage an essential function, department or subdivision; manage the organization, department, subdivision, function or component; have discretion over day-to-day operations and activities; and, if there are direct reports, have the ability to hire, fire and/or recommend personnel actions for the direct reports, or, if there are no direct reports, functions at a senior level within the hierarchy or as to function managed.

Length of L-1A classification

If the office in the U.S. is a new office, the L-1A will initially be approved for only 1 year.  Renewals thereafter can be requested in 2-year increments for a total period of 7 years. Conversely, foreign employees transferring to a pre-established U.S. affiliated are allowed an initial three-year stay.

For either category of foreign employee, extensions are granted in increments of 2-years up to a maximum limit of seven years.

Dependents and Spouses

An L-1A employee is permitted to bring their spouse along at the time of transfer, or at a later date. Unmarried dependents under the age of 21 are also allowed to accompany the L-1A employee. These family members will be classified under the L-2 non-immigrant status, and if approved, are allowed the identical length of stay as the L-1A employee.

For spouses who intend to apply for separate employment, they must complete a Form I-765, which is a petition for work authorization. Once approved, the L-2 spouse may work in the U.S. without restriction.

For more information, visit our L-1A Visa section (which includes the L-1 Visa) as well as Common L-1 Visa Questions and L-1 Visa – Did you Know? 

For help with the L-1A Visa, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online.

Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2015 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.